Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1872
This painting was in the collection of the late Mr Charles P. Matthews of Havering-atte-Bowe, Essex, and was offered for auction by Messrs Christie, Manson and Woods at their auction house at King Street, London, on 6 June 1891.
It was auctioned again by Sotheby’s on 2 May 1979 and 7 October 1980 under the title ‘Earl Howard giving bread to chained galley slaves’.
Athenaeum, 25 May 1872:
Mr. Eyre Crowe is rapidly securing for himself a high position … Howard succouring the Galley-Slaves of Venice, A.D. 1778 (909), his largest picture, will interest the public less than the other and smaller paintings he has contributed. The view gives the side and deck of a large Venetian galley, a boat which has come alongside, the sea, and the distant towers, spires, and other buildings of the city. This picture is very hard, as, indeed, Mr. Crowe’s productions usually are, but it is intensely sunny, although not warm. The red-painted deck of the galley and her high poop are shown, her short masts and furled and striped sails. Howard, readily recognisable by his face and costume, stands upon the deck, and distributes among the slaves the great round loaves he has brought; the boat alongside contains blankets and other comforts for the sick captives; the slaves are nearly naked; one of them cuts his loaf eagerly; and others wait their turn for food. The execution is of that thorough and careful kind which rewards the inspection he invites. There are not a few points of fine colour, yet, as a whole, the work lacks colour, and the very solidity of the painting renders it rather opaque. It is pleasant to observe with what skill the little figures in this and the smaller pictures here have been drawn, – how thoroughly their actions have been studied; and we are glad to see workmanship so nearly perfect as the drawing of the galley.
The Times, 5 June 1872:
Mr. E. Crowe’s principal picture, ‘Howard succouring the Galley-slaves at Venice’ (909) is a work of the utmost care and conscientiousness, though it fails of pictorial effect from the uniform hardness of the execution, and the want of real glow in the colour in spite of all the effort to give the effect of diffused Southern daylight. The representation of the details of the galley is most careful, and the wretched slaves, falling eagerly on the brown loaves which the philanthropist is distributing, and their brutal guards, are excellently conceived and thoroughly wrought out.
Art Journal, July 1872:
E. CROWE opens up a train of reflection, bearing rather on Art than on philanthropy, which cannot here be entertained. In any examination of the picture, the galley always comes forward as the subject (rather than the charity of Howard); such however as it is, it is admirably worked out.