Brothers of the Brush (1873)

Engraving of 'Brothers of the Brush' (1873) by Eyre Crowe

Medium: oil

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1873; Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition, 1888

A print of this painting, after Eyre Crowe, was published by Léon Henri Lefèvre in London in 1881. The image shown here was kindly shared by an owner in the U.S.A. Another copy is held by the British Museum, museum number 1886,1206.80.

Athenaeum, 10 May 1873:

Mr. Eyre Crowe’s contributions are of diverse kinds, but uniform technical excellence. The most interesting among them is a capital piece of London life and labour, styled Brothers of the Brush (234). It shows the front of a tall, narrow house with a long ladder reared against it, on this some painters are at work. Four men stand on the ladder, each one is busy with his part of the façade, and they are placed one above the other. Their actions are admirable for spirit and variety. Notice how one of them delivers a long backward stroke of his brush against the wall; how another turns on the ladder, clinging with one hand to it in order to get at his task. On the parapet a fifth man appears; at the foot of the ladder is a sixth. The details of the design have been carefully considered, the drawing of the figures and accessories is sound and complete, and the modelling of all the parts leaves nothing to be desired. In a picture so excellent we could wish for more brightness and richness, not to say warmth of colour, and, without any sacrifice of that solidity which is so valuable, greater softness.

Illustrated London News, 17 May 1873:

Mr. Eyre Crowe has imparted a remarkable air of truth and completeness to his capital little picture of ‘Brothers of the Brush’ (234) – a number of house-painters at work on a three-storied front, on various parts of a long ladder.

The Times, 26 June 1873:

Mr. Eyre Crowe, who usually sends us some embodiment of literary anecdote, has this year confined himself to bits of contemporary life of the more prosaic kind. If even such subjects as … four house-painters at work on a house-front (234) … can be made interesting by sincerity and conscientiousness of treatment, what fruit might not be expected from a deeper and tenderer or even more daring grasp of contemporary life?

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