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Slaves Waiting for Sale: Richmond, Virginia (1861)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Eyre Crowe (1824–1910) was an English painter, principally of genre and historical subjects. Born in London, he was the eldest of the six children of Eyre Evans Crowe (1799–1868), author and journalist, and his first wife, Margaret (d. 1853). His father was a correspondent for the Morning Chronicle in Paris, where Crowe spent much of his childhood, home-schooled by his father. He was taught drawing by William Darley and M. Brasseur, and in 1839 enrolled at the studio of Paul Delaroche.[1]

Following the closure of Delaroche’s studio in 1843, Crowe followed him to Rome before returning to his family in London the following year. After his initial submissions to the Royal Academy were rejected he enrolled at the Academy Schools, making his début in 1846 with Master Prynne Searching Archbishop Laud’s Pockets in the Tower.[a]William Prynne was a prominent Puritan and opponent of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, who was executed in 1645.

Crowe’s father moved to the Daily News in 1846, becoming its editor in 1849, and employed his son as the newspaper’s art critic. But after his father was forced to resign from his position as editor in 1851 the family returned to Paris, following which a family friend, the author William Makepeace Thackeray engaged Crowe as his secretary and drawing-master for his daughters.[2] Thackeray had previously employed Crowe in 1849 to help with his research for the accompanying text for Louis Marvy’s engravings of Sketches after English Landscape Painters. Crowe also accompanied Thackeray on a six-month lecture tour of the United States from November 1852 to April 1853, as his “factotum and amanuensis”.[1][b]A factotum is an employee who undertakes a variety of tasks;[3] an amuensis is “one who copies or writes from the dictation of another”.[4]

Artistic career

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The Dinner Hour, Wigan (1874), showing mill girls relaxing at lunchtime
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Following his return to England, Crowe began to achieve some success as a painter of genre and historical subjects, but he is perhaps better remembered today for his forays into social realism, such as his depiction of female millworkers in The Dinner Hour, Wigan (1874),[1] now in the possession of the Manchester Art Gallery.[5]

Crowe exhibited annually at the Royal Academy from 1857 until 1908, and was elected an associate in 1876, but never became an academician. From 1859 he acted as an occasional examiner and inspector of the government schools of art.[1]

Personal life

Described by his biographer as “a sociable bachelor”, Crowe never married.[1]

Crowe’s health deteriorated throughout 1909, and in early April 1910 he became a Retired member of the Royal Academy, entitling him to a annual pension of £200, equivalent to about £21,000 as at 2020.[2][c]Calculated using the retail price index.[6] He died of heart failure at his home in London on 12 December 1910 following a hernia operation, and was buried three days later at Kensall Green Cemetery.[1]




Hopson, J. P. “Crowe, Eyre (1824–1910).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online, Oxford University Press, 2004,
Manchester Art Gallery. The Dinner Hour, Wigan.
MeasuringWorth. Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a UK Pound Amount, 1270 to Present. 2020,
OED. “Factotum, n.” Oxford English Dictionary, Online, Oxford  University Press, 2021,
OED. “Amanuensis, n.” Oxford English Dictionary, Online, Oxford University Press, 2021,
Summerwill, Kathryn. Eyre Crowe’s Life. 2009,