Lady Coventry’s Escort (1892)

'Lady Coventry's Escort' by Eyre Crowe A.R.A. (1892)

'Lady Coventry's Escort' by Eyre Crowe A.R.A. (1892). Reproduction from Royal Academy Pictures, 1892, p. 61

Medium: oil

Size: 50 x 74 inches

Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1892; University of Minnesota, 1974 (sketches)

Current owner: Private collection

Original caption: ‘Lady Coventry, having been insulted in the park Sunday se’night, the King (George II) heard of it and said that to prevent the same for the future, she should have a guard, etc.’

The quotation accompanying the picture came from Horace Walpole’s Letters, and referred to the vain action of the celebrated beauty Lady Maria Coventry (1733-1760) in taking up King George II’s offer of an escort of two servants of the guard and 12 soldiers to accompany her on a walk through Hyde Park, after she had been mobbed the previous week by people eager to see her face.

Three sketches for the picture were sold at auction in 1972 and 1973, and were exhibited at the University of Minnesota in 1974 as part of the exhibition ‘The Art of Mind of Victorian England: Paintings from the Forbes Magazine Collection’. The painting itself was part of the collection of Columbia College (now Loras College), Dubuque, Iowa, until 1977, and is now in a private collection.

The Scotsman, 7 May 1892:

Mr Eyre Crowe, the Associate… is responsible for a very bad picture, painted on a large scale, which he calls ‘Lady Coventry’s Escort’ (535). That is should have been hung on the line is not creditable to the Hanging Committee.

The Times, 21 May 1892:

Mr Eyre Crowe [has] a picture (535) which the French would expressively describe as inqualifiable. By what fatality is is that certain painters, whose hand and eye are not what they were, still attack the most complicated and difficult subjects? A simple portrait, a simple landscape, from their brush might pass without offence; but they attempt a crowd, an elaborate piece of history, a picture with much action and movement in it, and they leave the critic and the public no option.

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