Size: 39 x 58½ inches
Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1898
Original caption: ‘The French mariners often went off undisturbed in their boats from one side of the ship, whilst the English had entered and were destroying the other. During the action a generous exclamation burst from James, for when he first saw the seamen in swarms scrambling up the high sides of the French ships from their boats, he cried, ‘Ah! none but my brave English could do so brave an action.’
The battlefield scene, unusual for Crowe, was possibly inspired by the positive public reaction to similar paintings which Crowe observed at the Victorian Era Exhibition in June 1896. His friend Jean-Léon Gérôme had a ‘beautiful’ model of a gunship, which Crowe painted and arranged to have photographed during a visit to Paris in summer 1897, and Gérôme also gave Crowe much helpful advice on the composition. The final picture was affected by the well-meaning actions of James Clarke Hook RA (1819-1907) on one of the Varnishing Days at the Royal Academy, who, according to Eyre Crowe’s diary, went over the waves and the principal figure of James II with a palette-knife, exclaiming ‘I’ll eat my ‘Ead off, if that aint a great improvement!’ Crowe wrote that he was ‘so dazed that I left my work thus smudged over, conscious that the work was less gawdy; but also less neat than it should be!’
This painting was one of those remaining in Eyre Crowe’s possession at his death, and was sold for £8 8s at an auction of his remaining works at Christie’s in London on 18 March 1911.