Queen Eleanor’s Tomb (1880)

Medium: oil

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1880

The Academy, 10 April 1880:

The two pictures which Mr. Eyre Crowe will exhibit at the Royal Academy show strongly contrasted subjects: one of them is a drawing-room scene, a game of forfeits; the other an interior in Westminster Abbey… The second picture – the interior at Westminster – vaguely recalls a work of some three or four years ago, to which, however, a more dramatic interest attached, as will be apparent when remember its name – Sanctuary. In that work the portion of the Abbey represented was crowded with figures; there was the woman taking refuge at the altar from the ire of her husband, and there was the eager crowd of lookers-on. Here, however, no figure disturbs the silence of the place, and the interest is sought and found in the skilled representation of the building, and in the light, shade and colour which are present. It strikes us as a particularly agreeable and well-considered design. In the parts of the church and its monuments represented many styles of architecture meet. In the foreground are the simple lines of the oldest communion table in England; to the left is Eleanor’s tomb; there is likewise a glimpse of Henry the Seventh’s Chapel; and the wooden pilasters of the seventeenth century adjoin the Gothic sculpture of the fourteenth. In the suggestion of so much of English history and in the presentation of such varied forms there is surely life enough without the introduction of figures. Some places are far more interesting than any figures that could possibly people them.

Athenaeum, 1 May 1880:

… a fine view of the chapel of Edward the Confessor at Westminster, and the monument of Eleanor of Castile. The chief charm of the place was destroyed when most of the authentic surface of the ancient stone was removed, and the whole saturated with lac dissolved in spirit. The result of this deplorable blunder has been to banish the ineffably beautiful tints of time and substitute a brown, horn-like surface, which by-and-by will turn black.

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