Ford Madox Brown

The Coat of Many Colours


Not on display

Ford Madox Brown 1821–1893
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 305 × 305 mm
Bequeathed by J.R. Holliday 1931

Display caption

This watercolour illustrates the Old Testament story of Joseph and his coat of many colours. His brothers, jealous of the preference shown towards him by their father, have sold Joseph as a slave. Here we see them duping their father into believing that Joseph has been killed, using the blood-stained coat as evidence.

Unlike other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, Brown did not travel to the Near East. However, to give authenticity to the biblical subject matter, he used a watercolour painted by Thomas Seddon in Palestine as inspiration for the background landscape.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Technique and condition

Watercolour and gouache with gum on medium weight, wove, watercolour paper. In general the support is in good condition. It is attached to a blind wooden strainer and is free from planar distortions. There is some foxing and possible darkening of the support. The media is in good condition, with no obvious fading of the colours. Some of the more saturated colours have a gum glaze that can be seen in raking light.

Katharine Lockett
April 2003

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