Execution of the Duc d’Enghien, 1804 (1879)

Medium: oil

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1879

Original caption: ‘On hearing the sentence of the military commission condemning him to be shot, which was his first intimation of the fatal verdict, he asked for a pair of scissors, which were handed to him by some men of the firing party. He cut off a lock of his hair and handing it, along with a letter and a ring, asked to have these last tokens forwarded to the Princess Charlotte Rohan-Rochefort, to whom he had been privately married’

Illustrated London News, 17 May 1879:

… Returning to the remaining works by R.A.’s or A.R.A.’s, we have to note no novelty of subject or treatment; unless it be in the case of Mr. Eyre Crowe, who represents the Duc d’Enghien cutting off, just before his execution, a lock of his hair for his secretly married wife (943), and Charlotte Corday about to enter the bath-room of Marat (301) – in both cases the unpleasantness of the themes being aggravated by excessive grimness of treatment; and why, we would ask, is the head of Charlotte Corday so disproportionately large and elongated?

Athenaeum, 31 May 1879:

By far the best of Mr. Crowe’s contributions is Execution of the Duc d’Enghien (943). A lantern placed on the ground close the fortress walls reveals the Duke, gallantly clad, in the act of cutting lovelocks from his hair to be sent to his wife, by the hands, we suppose, of an old officer who stands near and shows some compassion for the victim. The gaunt musketeers are seen in the broken light, one rank behind the other, and ready for their office. The figures tell the story capitally and in a moving way. We fail to recognise the redress of artificial light, but the picture is rich in tone, as it appears to us, with some lack of richness in the colour.

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