Friday, April 17, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Ford Madox Brown - Aries x 6

 Self portrait
I've chosen to feature Victorian artist Ford Madox Brown as much for his unusually Aries-packed natal chart as for his paintings. More on the astrology later in this post.

His style has similarity with that of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (including Rossetti, Hunt and Millais), but he was some years older than the main group of Pre-Raphaelites, and in fact has been described as having pioneered the style of painting which which came to be known as Pre-Raphaelite before the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was actually founded in 1848.

Ford Madox Brown's paintings tended to be less "perfect", more down to earth, sympathetic to ordinary people, less in awe of the beautiful people, whether mythical or real. He was a longtime friend of my own hero, William Morris. In 1861 he was one of the founding members of William Morris' business, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company (later Morris and Company).

Brown was born, according to Astrodatabank on 16 April 1821 at 4.00 PM in Calais, France to English parents. He studied in Europe, remained in France for some years, married his first wife, Elizabeth. Their first child died in infancy in 1842, a second child was born in 1843. They moved to England in 1844. However Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis, and died aged 27 on the journey back to England from Rome where she had been staying. Brown married again, to a younger woman, Emma Hill, who had been his model, and live in lover for several years. He's said also to have had some "associations" with women outside his marriage, in particular with another artist, Marie Spartali Stillman and a writer, Mathilde Blind.

Detail of his biography is at Wikipedia.
Also, there's a good combinations of biographical facts and copious illustrations
at HERE.

As for Brown's personality, I've gleaned little. At mentalfloss there's this note:
4. According to one source, Brown "threw brilliant parties, hosted animated debates and even fashionable seances." The article goes on to state that Brown's admirers considered him "the handsomest man in London" as well as "the best conversationalist." Apparently, he was referred to as a "King of Hearts."

Ford Madox Brown's best known paintings are The Last of England, Work, and the frescoes he painted for Manchester's Town Hall.

Click on image for a bigger version:

 The Last of England (1855)

The painting tells the story of the emigration of a young family from England to Australia; part of the emigrating movement of the 1850s, when people sought new lives around the British Empire.
Compelled to leave all they have known and loved, their grim stoicism testifies to their determination.
The Last of England also tells the story of the artist, Ford Madox Brown. In 1852, he was "intensely miserable, very hard up and not a little mad". The main figures are portraits of Brown and his beloved model, Emma Hill, whom he married in 1853. They form a solid unit, bound together in their love. It is a painting full of human emotion, incident and drama; from the vulnerability of their baby's tiny hand to the savage anger of the figures in the background.

His painting, Work, really needs to be seen in large format, this is better done by going to Wikipedia HERE and clicking on the image there.

From The Guardian:
Underpinning these two great paintings lay Brown's abiding interest in the underdog. Unlike his friend William Morris, he was never a systematic socialist, opting instead to make a series of pragmatic and personal interventions in the lives of the poor. He taught art at the Working's Mens' College and, later, set up the Labour Bureau in Manchester. In the same way, his art is one of engaged observation rather than noisy propaganda. Perhaps this was because, unlike the independently wealthy Morris, Brown understood poverty to be a complex, nuanced business. While never actually starving, he spent at least two decades of his working life harried by a lack of cash. The Last of England sold for less than it should, and Brown's hyper-sensitivity also meant that he tended to crash up against the institutions and people who would have done him most good.

Below is just one example of frescos in Manchester Town Hall (click on it for a bigger version)
- the rest can be seen at the BBC website HERE.

From the same Guardian piece:
Although he had no prior relationship with Manchester, its brisk, nonconformist atmosphere suited him particularly well. While reviewing the city's history to find subjects for his murals, he found an abundance of moments that chimed with his own subtle understanding of the human condition.


What can I say? All personal planets are in Aries, apart from Moon in Libra - a predominantly Cardinal chart. Moon in Venus-ruled, arty Libra symbolically depicts a kind of funnel through which all Aries' pioneering, motivated and forceful attributes are directed. Moon lay in opposition to
Venus, Saturn and Jupiter, with Libra's best balancing act going on to calm down the worst of Aries' impetuosities and aggressive instincts.

Generational outer planets Uranus and Neptune were in exact conjunction in Capricorn when Ford Madox Brown was born.

From Gary Lorentzen's website:
Uranus/Neptune in the 19th Century—Economic Self-Interest vs Social Benefit ~
The old Sagittarius influence was gone and an entirely new, modern impulse was shaping the expression of Uranus/Neptune. Commercial capitalism was replaced by industrial capitalism and a growing state capitalism. Colonialism came into its own as states consolidated their holdings forming extended, global empires. Almost immediately, however, there was a reaction to this trend in the form of a growing socialist/communist movement that applied the lessons of the previous cycles to a new, scientific materialism and scientific state management. But the conjunction took place in Capricorn in the Capricorn decanate. The impulse to move away from the old Sagittarian idealism was strong, and a new, more practical, economic idealism was forming.
That does fit Brown's art, generational and astrological outlook well. The conjunction makes challenging square aspects to his natal Mercury and Mars in Aries - could be seen as challenging him to get with the new paradigm!


mike said...

Brown's Mercury, Venus, Mars, & Jupiter make favorable conjunctions with Morris' planets in Aries, so there was bound to be a rapport between the two of them. Brown's six planet stellium in Aries no doubt made him a force to reckon with and probably difficult for him to form cooperative relationships. I suspect, if his time of birth is correct, he was probably suspicious of others' motives. Pluto on the DSC can cause major relationship concerns, particularly with his full 7th and 8th houses, and as you indicate, with the Moon in opposition. His Uranus-Neptune in square to Mercury-Mars perhaps added some insecurity disguised as impetuosity and "outsider-ness" to his associations with others, when blended with the 1st-4th-7th house planets.

I find his work very amazing, though not particularly with warmth or appeal to me. William Morris' works definitely draw me in and I find some sort of satisfaction viewing his pieces and designs. The two were friendly acquaintances, but I think Morris' sociability, prosperity, and prestige had more to do with it than actual friendship. I can't find any references that establishes a strong liaison between the two, as Morris had with many others.

I've always thought the 1800s was an amazing century, at least for those that had a propensity to achieve. Many physical hazards during that century, but so many openings in the sociocultural fabric, science was a new frontier, and technology was gaining momentum. There was still an abundance of nature that hadn't been destroyed!

Twilight said...

mike ~ It's an unusual chart - I do enjoy finding oddities, especially those with so many personal planets in one sign.

Thanks for your astro input. I agree - good points!

I feel the same about Morris v Brown too, and their respective artworks.

The 1800s had many plus points, for those not near poverty level, or caught up in the almost slave culture of the early industrial revolution. For them it'd be a virtual Hell on Earth. An exciting century in many respects though.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Dang! I was just presented with that silly new catchpa thingie with photos of food - told to pick the steak items. That is flippin' RIDICULOUS!!!

mike (again) said...

Yes, those captchas are pretty strange, but like all newly strange things, I'll adapt. My missing comment on "American Idol" was a cup of coffee for the example, with only one of the two correct choices looking like a cup of something. My previous run-in was the hamburger, but none of the nine choices actually appeared to be similar, except for something resembling bread on top!

Wish they only made it this difficult to pull the trigger of a gun.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Ain't that the truth!! Of course that would violate somebody's rights...or something. :-/

Oh my! My monitor died on me this afternoon. Husband has a spare for use when he requires 2 computers working in tandem (for some odd job or other) I can use it until I can get another - so I'm back to the old square 19" format. I secretly prefer it, but don't wish to seem like too much of a a Luddite!

Now let's see what pics catchpa has for me tonight...

Twilight said...

mike ~ it was pasta.