Quite a few Eyre Crowe works have come up for sale in 2015, and were formerly unknown to me. Doctor Johnson Receiving Boswell in the Library (1899) is an interesting piece, harking back to Crowe’s heyday in the 1850s and 1860s when his pictures depicting moments from literary history were popular. It is reminiscent of A Scene at the Mitre; Dr Johnson, Boswell, Goldsmith (1857). Crowe’s other major picture commemorating Dr Johnson, The Penance of Dr Johnson (1869), can be seen on display at Dr Johnson’s House Museum in London.
The delightful ‘A Trouville’ is an undated watercolour sketch of the scene on the beach in this Normandy town. Crowe usually travelled to France every summer, evidenced by a crop of pictures set in France. School at the Aitre, St Maclou, Rouen (1883), Fish Market, Rouen (1884), and A Honeymoon in Normandy, Lisieux (1885), are fully worked oil paintings inspired by Crowe’s summer holidays.
‘The New Recruit’ is an interesting narrative picture, apparently set in the present day of, presumably, the 1860s or 1870s. The background seems to show a grim industrial landscape, like that depicted in Crowe’s famous The Dinner Hour, Wigan (1874). Its small size (21.3 x 26.9 inches – 54 x 68.2 cm) suggests that it may have been destined for the Dudley Gallery’s annual exhibition of ‘cabinet’ paintings in oil. The auctioneer in 2015 described the picture as only ‘attributed’ to Eyre Crowe, but the style is very distinctly his. The frieze of different characters across the foreground of the picture is a device often used by Crowe.
One other picture also came up for sale in 2015: ‘Woman Knitting’ (sold as ‘Strickende Bauerin’), a pencil and watercolour sketch measuring 21.7 x 16.9 inches (55 x 43 cm). It has the date 1909 – the last known work by Eyre Crowe.