Brick Court, Middle Temple, April 1774 / Death of Goldsmith/ Goldsmith’s Mourners (1862)

'Brick Court, Middle Temple, April 1774', or 'Goldsmith's Mourners' by Eyre Crowe (1863). Engraving published on the front page of the Illustrated London News, 18 July 1863

‘Brick Court, Middle Temple, April 1774’, or ‘Goldsmith’s Mourners’ by Eyre Crowe (1863). Engraving published on the front page of the Illustrated London News, 18 July 1863

Medium: oil on panel

Size: 27½ inches x 36 inches

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1863; Philadelphia, 1876

Original caption: ‘On the morning of Monday, 4th of April, 1774, Oliver Goldsmith died … Brick Court is said to have been filled with mourners the reverse of domestic; women without a home, without domesticity of any kind, with no friend but him they had come to weep for; outcasts of that great, solitary wicked city to whom he had never forgotten to be kind and charitable. And he had domestic mourners too. His coffin was reopened at the request of Miss Horneck and her sister that a lock might be cut from his hair, etc.’

Work on Brick Court began in August 1862, according to Eyre Crowe’s diary. It is signed and dated ‘E CROWE/1862’, and has a label on the reverse (probably from its exhibition at the Royal Academy), inscribed ‘Eyre CROWE’ 33/Langham Street/”Goldsmith’s Mourners”/Brick Court April 4th 1774′.

The painting was hung ‘on the line’ in the prestigious Middle Room of the Royal Academy exhibition, but despite the praise it received, it was not sold, remaining in Eyre Crowe’s possession until it was auctioned after his death, raising £47 5s 0d.

It was auctioned by Phillips, Son & Neale on 25 October 1971 under the title ‘Goldsmith’s Mourners outside Brick Court’. It was sold by Bonham’s of London in their ’19th century paintings’ sale on 22 April 2009. The hammer price was £6,500 (£7,800 including buyer’s premium and sales tax).

The Times, 2 May 1863:

In passing a look should be taken, till the longer examination they deserve can be given, at Mr. Whistler’s remarkable river-side subject … [and] at Mr. E. Crowe’s ‘Brick Court’ (797). [no further space was in fact given to reviewing this painting]

Athenaeum, 9 May 1863:

Mr. Crowe has taught us to look every year for something from him illustrating Johnson and his friends. Last year’s ‘De Foe in the Pillory’ (an excellent picture) was, therefore, rather a disappointment. The artist has found a subject in Goldsmith, Brick Court, Middle Temple, 1774 (359), a work which shows great improvement upon its predecessors in painting and in drawing.

Illustrated London News, 16 May 1863:

Mr. E. Crowe contributes an interesting picture, though a less elaborate effort than his ‘De Foe in the Pillory’ which we engraved last year. The subject is ‘Brick Court’ (797), outside the door of Goldsmith’s residence on the morning of his death, where the beggars and vagrants, deserving or otherwise, from whom the kind doctor never withheld his charity, have collected.

Art Journal, 1863, p. 111:

Mr. Crowe, who last year was favourably known by his picture of ‘De Foe in the Pillory’, has illustrated this season, in ‘Brick Court, Middle Temple, April 1774’ (359), an interesting page in the literature of our country … Mr. Crowe, by thus allying himself with subjects akin to our literature and history, is fortunate to extend his sphere beyond the narrower sympathies and limits of many among our artists, who must rest content to paint the gossip of a cottage-door, or to immortalise the incidents and accessories of a back kitchen.

Art Journal, June 1864:

… a most attractive work, both in subject and on account of the truly excellent manner in which it is treated.

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