Jesus Washing Peter's Feet Ford Madox Brown Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Jesus Washing Peter's Feet is an oil painting on canvas with a wooden frame by Ford Madox Brown. It is a religious artwork featuring the Last Supper scene where Jesus washes Peter's feet.

As the story goes in the Bible, Peter was reluctant to have his feet washed and only after Jesus made it clear that it was mandatory did he finally agree. From the painting, it can be seen from Peter’s expression that he was not enjoying much what was happening. The painting is high in composition, with detailed depictions of the expressions on the faces of the disciples. The dark green, dark brown, lighter green, white and golden cloth colours used show contrasting emotions such as innocence, humility and even shame in the case of Peter. Initially, Jesus was only half-clothed and the robe was only added after raising an uproar from the religious community and remained unsold for several years.

Although not an official member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Ford was a close associate and uses their techniques for this painting, with some of their members even modelling for some of the disciples. This social realism technique he applied was widely used to depict the challenges faced by Christians during that time when industrialization was at its peak. Some of the important sources of inspiration for Brown were artists such as William Holman Hunt and John Evertt Millais. He adheres to a socialist thought through most of his works, where he focuses on important social issues. The Last of England shows the emigration of people from England due to poverty, whereas Work shows various workers engaging in hard manual labour. A unique aspect of his works is the fact that he underlines them with spirituality in the Christianity realm, in line with the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet bears the following teachings:

  • Jesus washing the feet of his disciples signified the highest level of humility at a time where there were questions about who was next in line to succeed him.
  • The teaching to his followers was that they should be willing to serve one another at all times.

Through this beautifully crafted work of art, Brown can pass fundamental Christian teachings while at the same time keeping a good record of religious history.