The Love of Beauty. (Sonnet.)

Ford Madox Brown

General Description

Date: 1849 December
Rhyme: a5b5a5a5b5 b5a5c5d5d5d5c5d5
Meter: iambic
Genre: sonnet


◦ Fredeman 151-153


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Germ text.

Scholarly Commentary


On 19 December 1849 as the first number of The Germ was being prepared for press, WMR noted in his PRB diary that Ford Madox Brown brought this sonnet for the number (see WMRprb 34). Unlike the poems by Woolner, which opened the first number of The Germ immediately preceding this sonnet, Brown makes no effort to construct a pastiche of a more primitive poetic style. The formal contemporaneity of the sonnet underscores its relation to Pre-Raphaelitism as a set of cultural attitudes consciously seeking inspiration in earlier materials.

The argument of the sestet is especially interesting. It intimates a relation between the artist and an ideal Nature that is mediated by an intense love-relation with a beloved woman—in this case, Boccaccio's Fiammetta. The thought parallels a characteristic pattern of DGR's thinking.

The historical Fiammetta was reputed to be Maria d'Aquino, the daughter of the Count and Countess of Aquino. He is said to have met her and fallen in love with her in 1338 when he saw her in church. This kind of biographical speculation was regularly accepted by nineteenth-century readers like Brown and DGR, although now the formal convention of such a love-relation has thrown these matters into serious doubt.

Printing History

First printed in The Germ 1, page 10.


DGR took an intense interest in Boccaccio's Fiammetta, who is his Beatrice figure. He included six translations of Boccaccio's sonnets in Appendix II of The Earlu Italian Poets, including three sonnets dealing with Fiammetta. There are as well two major pictorial works, Fiammetta (1866) and A Vision of Fiammetta (1878), the latter a double work accompanied by a sonnet, Fiammetta. (For a Picture.).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: brown001.raw.xml