The Rehearsal (1876)

Medium: oil

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1876

Original caption: ‘Euelpides and Pisthetairus have fled from Athens and its vices. In search of a more tranquil region, they are directed by a raven to the community of birds ruled by their king Epops. The scene chosen represents their rebuff, on being at first mistaken for bird-catchers, etc., etc.’ – Aristophanes

Athenaeum, 29 April 1876:

Among the remarkable works of the season are … Mr. Eyre Crowe’s The Rehearsal (10), an extremely humourous and characteristic picture from Aristophanes’ ‘Birds’: Greek players with their masks grouped around the poet, who instructs them in their parts, a most vividly conceived group; in the background is the chorus, with masks of gigantic birds.

The Times, 29 April 1876:

Always rather odd in his choice of subject, Mr. Crowe has this year painted (10), ‘Aristophanes drilling the personages of his “Birds”‘. The poet is hard at work on his Euelpides and Peisthethaerus, while the chorus in their bird-masks stand a little apart.

Athenaeum, 13 May 1876:

Mr. Eyre Crowe’s pictures justify his election to the A.R.A.-ship, for they are learned and solid, and they show fruits of long and diligent studies in a fine sense of form, much improvement in colour and brilliancy, with no less firmness than before. The Rehearsal (10) exhibits the stateliness and energy which must have characterised the Greek stage. A group, comprising Aristophanes and the actors who are to play in ‘The Birds’, appears in front, and the figures are clad in green, black and yellow robes: the players listen intently, and with vivacity of expressions, to the humorous declamation, and they observe the lively action of the poet, who throws up his arms and speaks aloud: some of these figures wear their appropriate masks; others have pushed them back, so that their handsome and earnest faces are displayed. It is a fine and telling group, and the draperies and flesh are most carefully and solidly drawn and painted. Behind, is a larger group of actors in costume, quaint masks and all, standing near the large curtain, ready to go ‘before the public’.

Art Journal, August 1876:

There is, certainly, humour in the new Associate’s ‘Rehearsal’ (10); but to the general visitor this picture, with its Euelpides, Pisthetairus, and the Chorus of Birds, will prove both literally and metaphorically Greek.

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