The Seeds and Fruits of English Poetry

Image credit: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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Devised to illustrate the ennobling of the English language by Chaucer, this painting was planned in London, composed in Rome in 1845 and completed after Brown's return to England. The central panel shows Geoffrey Chaucer reading at the court of Edward III, with his patron, John of Gaunt, leaning on his left shoulder. The dying Black Prince lies to their left. The 'fruits' of English poetry appear in the wings: Milton, Spenser and Shakespeare on the left; Byron, Pope and Burns on the right; Goldsmith and Thomson in the roundels; and, inscribed in the cartouches beneath (held by the children), the names of Campbell, Moore, Shelley, Keats, Chatterton, Kirke White, Coleridge and Wordsworth. Although designed as a sketch for a larger work, Brown omitted the two wings and the Gothic details when he painted his monumental 'Geoffrey Chaucer reading', exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1851 (Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales).

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford



The Seeds and Fruits of English Poetry




oil on canvas


H 36 x W 46 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift from Florence Weldon (née Tebb), 1920 On loan.

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Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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