Master Prynne Searching Archbishop Laud’s Pockets in the Tower (1846)

Medium: oil

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1846

This was the first picture exhibited by Eyre Crowe at the Royal Academy exhibition, two years after his arrival in London, at the age of 21.

It was noted in the reviews of the exhibition only by Crowe’s friend William Makepeace Thackeray, who was at the time an art critic and journalist at the Morning Chronicle. Thackeray had owed his position there to Crowe’s father Eyre Evans Crowe, and the long association between the two families must suggest that he included a notice of young Crowe’s picture more out of friendship than artistic merit. The review below should therefore be taken with a pinch of salt:

Morning Chronicle, 11 May 1846:

Mr Crowe, a new exhibitor we believe, has a picture, 534, Prynne searching Laud’s pockets, which promises very well. The puritan and the bishop are capital figures, the head of the latter particularly fine. The artist is as yet deficient in pictorial dexterity, but the picture has energy, good drawing, and character.

However, the picture clearly had charm, as it was chosen by an Art Union prizeholder the same year, according to Eyre Crowe in his diary for 1899. It came up at auction that year, and was bought by a Mr John King of Liverpool for his art dealer father, who offered it for sale at £60. Another picture by Eyre Crowe, seemingly of the same subject, but signed and dated 1870, was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2008 under the title Soldiers Meeting.

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