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This picture is a replica of Ford Madox Brown’s largest and most ambitious painting, exhibited in 1851. It is significant for its portrayal of natural sunlight and reveals his first attempt ‘to carry out the notion ...of treating the light and shade absolutely, as it exists at any one moment, instead of approximately or in generalized style’.This pursuit of ‘truth to nature’ was consistent with Pre-Raphaelite ideals, as was his careful workmanship. The picture’s subject, Geoffrey Chaucer, reflects the growing popularity with artists of English literature instead of more conventional classical myths and biblical tales.

July 2007