Vote for Brunel as the Art Fund’s 2019 favourite work of art

Vote before 11 December for our Brunel in Chains photograph as the Art Fund’s favourite work of art of 2019, and you could win a National Art Pass!

The Art Fund are looking for the public’s favourite work of art among all those they helped museums and galleries across the UK to acquire in 2019. Thanks to their support, we were able to purchase the most famous in an 1857 series of photographs of Isambard Kingdom Brunel by the young photographer Robert Howlett. The Art Fund have chosen our photograph for their shortlist, and you can now vote for the winner on the Art Fund website. Be quick, the competition closes on 11 December 2019!

In the photograph, Brunel is shown against a wall of massive chain links – the launching chains of his Great Eastern. The image conveys both the great strength and power of the machinery and Brunel’s absolute mastery over it. His pose is casual and confident, and while his boots and trousers bear the dust of the shipyard, his cravat and top hat are those of a man of industry. One of the first examples of environmental portraiture, it was reproduced in his day as a popular carte-de-visite. Please vote, and help us to make this iconic image of Brunel just as well-known today.