Medium: cartoon [in oil]
The Houses of Parliament in London were burnt down in a fire in 1834. They were rebuilt to a Gothic design by Sir Charles Barry in the 1840s and 1850s. The decoration of the interior was supervised by a Royal Commission of Fine Arts under the presidency of Prince Albert, which was charged with investigating whether the rebuilding would afford an opportunity of encouraging and promoting the Fine Arts. Four open competitions were held, in 1843, 1844, 1845 and 1847, offering financial prizes and the opportunity to produce works of art for the new Parliamentary rooms. The first competitions asked for cartoons (preparatory paintings) for large frescoes for the walls of the Houses of Parliament, and models for statues.
The competition in 1847 was for large-scale oil paintings on elevated themes of British history. 103 exhibitors submitted works. Eyre Crowe’s painting was entitled The Battle of Agincourt. It was harshly reviewed in the Athenaeum (July 10 1847):
Mr Eyre Crowe, in The Battle of Agincourt, may possibly have thought confusion a necessary element towards the realization of such a scene. He has, accordingly, produced so much of what is involved and perplexing – aided by no arrangement of light and dark to bring out some forms or subdue others – that the eye cannot rest on any point. The picture is so minute in archaeological details as to appeal more to the antiquary than to the lovers of Art.
When the winners were announced, nine artists were rewarded with prizes varying from £200 to £500. Eyre Crowe was not one of them.