Charles II Knighting the Loin of Beef (1867)

Medium: oil

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1867

Eyre Crowe commenced sketches for this painting as early on as April 1862, according to his diary entries. He took the opportunity of a visit to Haddon Hall in Derbyshire in February 1863 to sketch an outline of the Banqueting Hall, which he thought would do well for the picture.

Illustrated London News, 25 May 1867:

Mr. Eyre Crowe’s large picture, ‘Charles II knighting the loin of beef’ (435), noticeable for some of the artist’s best painting, but a subject (of small dignity had it been founded on fact) that assumes for true the vulgar error of the origin of sirloin – the joint was called surloin long before…

Athenaeum, 25 May 1867:

Mr. Eyre Crowe’s Charles II knighting the Loin of Beef (435) tells a false story capitally, and has a striking design. The King stands before the meat and gives the accolade; a server has mounted on a stool, and lifts the gigantic cover from the joint. This picture is inconsiderately and unworthily hung where it cannot be fairly seen; nevertheless, its apparent hardness will not stand against the applause which is due to its sound and careful painting and great spirit.

Art Journal, 1867, p. 139:

E. CROWE has not obtained the favour he might expect from the hangers, yet his ‘Charles II knighting the Loin of Beef’ (435) is one of his best pictures. The work, indeed, like several of the artist’s previous contributions to the Academy, comes close to positive success. One reason why this composition and several of its predecessors have not obtained more favour, doubtless, is a want of beauty of form in conspicuous figures. Why on earth, for instance, in this picture of Charles II, seated at a banquet-table filled with guests, should the eyes of all the world be irrestibly drawn to the dish-cover and the bent-backed butler standing almost on the table? By this one incident the dignity of the whole composition is gone. It is as if the artist designed to turn the proceeding into a comedy. The arrangement of colour, if not wholly successful, has obviously been carefully considered. Perhaps the brilliancy of certain passages has not been judiciously sobered down by neutrals. The colours, indeed, while distributed by rule, are not always composed under innate sense of harmony. It would appear, also, as if the faces were less well painted than the draperies. This inequality imports a decorative and costume aspect to a picture which, in some respects, reaches historic worth.

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