This painting by Ford Madox Brown painted between 1859-1863 can be used as a resource for teaching about Victorian England. It shows the subject of work as it affects all strata of society and was inspired by a group of navvies digging up the road to lay sewers in Hampstead.
Click on any part of the painting to find out more about the people and their times
Find out what the artist wrote about the painting…
Read about the artist
‘At that time extensive excavations, connected with the supply of water, were going on in the neighbourhood, and seeing and studying daily as did the British excavator, or navvy, as he designates himself, in the full swing of his activity (with his manly and picturesque costume, and the rich glow of colour which exercise under a hot sun will impart), it appeared to me that he was at least as worthy of the powers of the English painter, as the fisherman of the Adriatic, the peasant of the Campagna, or the Neapolitan lazzarone. Gradually this idea developed itself into that of “Work” as it now exists, with the British excavator for a central group, as the outward and visible type of Work.’