The Last of England : a new interpretation

Visiting Birmingham Art Gallery on Monday, mainly to view the Burne-Jones Perseus series, of which – I hope – more anon., I was very struck by a small detail in this painting – part of the permanent collection – by the forgotten crypto-Pre-Raphaelite Ford Madox Brown.

The last of England

The last of England


The detail that drew my attention – or, as Roland Barthes would have put it – the punctum – was the object that the  man in the front row is clutching.  It’s spherical, shiny, red and has a raised seam – it’s quite clearly a cricket ball.

These – I fancy – must be the Warne family, leaving England for Australia vowing eventual – if much-delayed – revenge on the mother country for their sad plight.

3 thoughts on “The Last of England : a new interpretation

  1. I love this painting and I would him to be clutching a cricket ball, I really would. Did you see the wonderful Jeremy Paxman series ‘The Victorians’ on the telly? I bought the accompanying book and there are loads more paintings in there than were shown in the series, including this one.

    Very much looking forward to a discourse on Burne Jones…

  2. I’ve a suspicion that the mystery object is actually something other than a cricket ball, though I’m not sure quite what.

    Yes, I did enjoy the Paxman series.

    I do hope to manage something about the Burne-Jones exhibition, though I’ve a nasty feeling it might join the other Serious Thoughts that I never quite get around to expressing because I’m too busy writing facetious stuff about cricket …

    Perhaps when the season’s finished.

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