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This picture illustrates the biblical story of Christ washing his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. It has an unusually low viewpoint and compressed space. Critics objected to the picture’s coarseness – it originally depicted Jesus only semi-clad. This caused an outcry when it was first exhibited and it remained unsold for several years until Ford Madox Brown reworked the figure in robes.Brown was never invited to join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood but he was a close associate of the group. Several members modelled for the disciples in this picture and the critic F G Stephens sat for Christ.

July 2007