After Edmund Blair Leighton (British, 1852 – 1922 RA) 

The Confession

After Edmund Blair Leighton (British, 1852 – 1922 RA) 

Attributed to Edmund Blair Leighton (British, 1852 – 1922)

Although his name is not commonly known, Edmund Blair Leighton’s most famous works are among the most widely recognized paintings of the period. His works of Godspeed (1900) and the Accolade (1901), can be seen in almost every poster shop around the world and are used as the epitome of medieval iconography. If one looks at the visual elements in Godspeed for example, it becomes evident that very few paintings encapsulate with such a strong a sense, the sensibilities of this genre. The beautiful maiden on the steps of a stone castle, the knight in shining armor, the white steed, and the sense of immediate peril which threatens the subjects contentment almost define our modern day conception of Medieval legend and romantic sentiment.

Edward Matthew Hale (British, 1852-1924)

Edward Matthew Hale (British, 1852-1924), English Victorian Romanticist artist

A genre painter, Edward Hale lived in London and Godalming. He studied in Paris from 1873-75 with Alexander Cabanel and Carolus-Duran, and from 1877-78 he worked as a war artist for the Illustrated London News with the Russian Army, and later in Afghanistan.

Most of his genre scenes are of army life, or the sea. Two works are in Leeds. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, Society of British Artists, Grosvener Gallery, New Gallery and elsewhere.

Edward Robert Hughes (British, 1851-1914)

Edward Robert Hughes RWS (5 November 1851 – 23 April 1914) was an English painter who worked prominently in watercolors, but also produced a number of significant oil paintings. He was influenced by his uncle and eminent Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood artist, Arthur Hughes, and worked closely with one of the Brotherhood’s founders, William Holman Hunt.

Having settled on his career choice, Edward Robert Hughes attended Heatherley’s in London to prepare himself for the chance of auditioning for the Royal Academy School. Hughes became a student at the Royal Academy School in 1868. While Pre-Raphaelitism played an influential part in shaping Hughes work, Aestheticism is also seen in his paintings.

E.R.Hughes is widely known for his works Midsummer Eve and Night With Her Train of Stars yet he built a career as a portrait painter to the upper classes.

In addition to being an accomplished artist himself, E.R.Hughes was also a studio assistant to the elder artist and Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founding member William Holman Hunt when Hunt suffered from glaucoma. Two of the paintings that Hughes worked on with Hunt were The Light of the World, which is displayed in St Paul’s Cathedral, and The Lady of Shalott, which is exhibited at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

On his own he experimented with ambitious techniques and was a perfectionist; he did numerous studies for many of his paintings, some of which turned out to be good enough for exhibition.

Hughes held several important offices within the artistic community over his lifetime such as becoming a member of the Art Workers Guild in 1888, and was on their committee from 1895 to 1897. He was elected to Associate Membership of The Royal Water Color Society (ARWS) on 18 February 1891, and he chose as his diploma work for election to full membership a mystical piece (Oh, What’s That in the Hollow?) inspired by a verse by Christina Rossetti Amor Mundi. His painting entitled A Witch was given by the Royal Watercolor Society to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to mark the coronation in 1902. In later years Hughes served as the Vice-President of the RWS before leaving in 1903. Throughout his career, E.R.Hughes exhibited his works in several galleries around London: Dudley GalleryGrosvenor GalleryNew GalleryThe Royal Academy, and toward the end of his career he exhibited with The Royal Society of Painters in Water Colors (RWS).

His works can be seen in public collections including Bradford Museums and GalleriesCambridge & County Folk MuseumMaidstone Museum & Art GalleryBruce Castle Museum, Kensington & Chelsea Local Studies, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, and the National Trust for Scotland.

Birmingham Museums Trust staged a retrospective exhibition, Enchanted Dreams: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of E.R. Hughes, from 17 October 2015 to 21 February 2016 at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Ernest Crofts, RA (British, 1847-1911)

ERNEST CROFTS B. Leeds 1847; D. London 1911.    Crofts was one of the leading military-historical painters of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, exhibiting well over 40 paintings at the Royal Academy and numerous scenes at other exhibitions depicting soldiers in battle or on campaign. And, unlike many of his contemporaries, he had had the luxury of actually witnessing soldiers in battle during the Franco-Prussian War.

After his early schooling at Rugby, the young Yorkshireman moved to Dusseldorf in 1870 to study art with the German military artist, Emile Hunten (1827-1902), and spent almost ten years there before returning to England to study with the historical genre painter, Alfred Barron Clay. During his stay in Germany, he accompanied Hunten to various battlefields during the war with France and was present at the battle of Gravelotte, but not being a war correspondent, had to remain on the other side of the Moselle River. He did witness the battles around Saarbruck and Borny, and these experiences helped to mould the young man’s ideas with the result that his early paintings represented scenes from the war. One such painting entitled One touch of nature makes the whole world kin represented a Prussian soldier offering water to a wounded Frenchman, and won for the artist a silver medal at the Crystal Palace in 1874. At the Royal Academy in the same year he showed a scene depicting the French retreat from Gravelotte. However, in the following year, he turned his attention to a more historical military scene with his representation of the battle of Ligny in 1815, showing Napoleon surrounded by his staff surveying the battlefield while columns of infantry advance to the front. This was to be the first of no fewer than twelve paintings shown at the Royal Academy by the artist between 1875 and 1906 representing the events surrounding the Waterloo campaign, the one exception being his 1887 rendition, Napoleon leaving Moscow.

For whatever reason, Crofts produced a series of accurate retrospective scenes of the Waterloo campaign right down to the minutest detail. Gone were the sweeping panoramic battle scenes of the early 19th century. The focus now was on the incident. Crofts had the skill and eye to produce these masterpieces of late Victorian battle art equaled only by Lady Butler. He himself built up a large collection of original uniforms and accessories, many of which were exhibited at the Royal Military Exhibition held at Chelsea Hospital in 1890. Many of his surviving sketches of figure studies attest to his fine draughtsmanship. It is quite probable that Crofts visited the battlefield of Waterloo and vicinity to gather sketches of the various locales he intended to depict. Other places were visited in order to obtain particular information such as details of Napoleon’s coach at Madame Tussaud’s for his 1879 work, On the Evening of the Battle of Waterloo. In this painting, Napoleon, bareheaded and forlorn, escapes from his carriage just before it becomes the booty of the Prussians. His troops are being routed an are in an utter state of confusion although several ranks of the old guard vainly attempt to present a hasty line of retreat. Two paintings dating from 1876 and 1878 represent the events before the battle. In the scene entitled On the morning of the battle of Waterloo, Crofts depicted the centre of the French position at break of day on June 18, 1815, under a dull sky laden with rain. Napoleon, surrounded by several marshals makes preparations for the final inevitable struggle. The Emperor, pale but undaunted, sits at a table near a farmhouse consulting a map while questioning a local farmer named Decoster. All around, the French army nervously awaits its fate. The painting of 1878 was entitled Wellington’s March from Quatre Bras to Waterloo and featured a group of French prisoners being escorted by soldiers of the 79h Highlanders at the moment when the Duke of Wellington salutes a troop of passing Royal Scots Greys, Wellington appears in other paintings by Crofts including At the Farm of Mont St. Jean painted in 1882. Other paintings of the battle represented the fighting around Hougoumont, the capture of a French Battery by the 52nd Regiment (1896), and Napoleon’s Last Grand Attack (1895).

While Crofts represented scenes from the wars of Wallenstein, Marlborough, and even a painting of the Sikh War, Charge of the 3rd King’s Own Light Dragoons, Moodkee, it was the events of the English Civil War which, like Waterloo, captured the artist’s imagination. In fact it was his Royal Academy picture of 1877 – Oliver Cromwell at Marston Moor – that brought the artist to the attention of many art critics. Similarly it was another Civil War scene, his 1898 painting To the rescue: an episode of the Civil War, which he painted on election to the Academy itself, the only late nineteenth century military artist to achieve this honour. Most of the major battles of the war such as Edgehill, Marston Moor and Naseby were painted by the artist as well as siege related scenes, i.e. Oliver Cromwell at the Storming of Basing House, painted in 1900, The Surrender of Donnington Castle, painted three years later, and The surrender of the city of York to the Roundheads, exhibited only three years before the artist’s death. Crofts painted a trilogy of canvases surrounding the execution of Charles 1 as well as scenes representing the campaigning at Worcester such as Charles 11 at Whiteladies (1898) and The Boscobel Oak (1889).

Crofts died on March 19, 1911 at Burlington House where he had lived as Keeper of the Royal Academy. Three years later and almost a century after Waterloo, Europe went to war again on a scale unimagined by the artist. The Great War inspired a vastly different type of art focusing on the horrors rather than the glory of war. While Crofts’ pictures had been popular in the 1870’s and 1880’s, the public lost its appetite for war pictures in the early years of the 20th century and during the hideous war in South Africa. While Crofts continued to paint scenes of war within the confines of the Royal Academy exhibitions, the public lost interest in his work and today, with the exception of a handful of canvases in public galleries, his paintings are more or less forgotten but they deserve greater attention if only for their wealth of detail and as windows on late Victorian attitudes to war and history.

Ernest Crofts, RA (British, 1847-1911)

Ernest Crofts was one of the leading military-historical painters of the late Victorian Era, exhibiting over 40 paintings at the Royal Academy. Many of his images portray the events surrounding the Waterloo campaign. Rather than sweeping panoramic battle scenes, the series of Waterloo paintings were incredibly detailed and accurate, depicting very specific moments in the battle. It was this attention to detail that brought the artist to the attention of many art critics.

Charles Baptiste Schreiber (French, 1847-1902)

Charles Baptiste Schreiber was born in 1847. Died in Paris in 1902. He was a French painter whose inspiration fell on the religious and ecclesiastical world. He is also responsible for animated scenes and landscapes.


Herbert James Draper (British, 1864-1920)

“The Wrath of the Sea God” was the second of a series of classical nautical paintings painted by Draper around the turn of the century. In 1894 he had achieved his first major public success with a painting entitled The Sea Maiden (Christie’s, 16 June 2010, lot 168), a dramatic scene set on board a fishing-boat as a sea-nymph is hauled aboard in the nets. This picture established Draper’s reputation as a painter of narratives beside the sea, and more specifically on board ships. Among the other notable examples of this theme were the Celtic Tristram and Yseult (formerly Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and destroyed during the Blitz) painted in 1901 and the famous classical extravaganzas The Golden Fleece of 1904 (Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford) and Ulysses and the Sirens of 1909 (first version, Ferens Art Gallery in Hull; second version, Leeds City Art Gallery).

The present picture illustrates an episode from Ovid’s Odyssey as the ship commanded by Odysseus and his men on their return to Ithaca from the Trojan wars, incurs the anger of Poseidon following Odysseus’ slaying of Poseidon’s son, the cyclops Polyphemus. The men struggle against the foaming waters, grappling with the steering oar at the stern and attempting to lower the sails to prevent the ship from capsizing.

When The Wrath of the Sea God was exhibited in Glasgow in 1900, it was described as ‘an artistic triumph’ (unidentified newspaper cutting from Draper’s scrapbook) and the artist was congratulated for using thick impasto to model the figures and the shields on the bulwark of the ship. It attracted the attention of Duncan Sinclair Smith, a wealthy manufacturer of shawls in Paisley who bought the painting soon after the exhibition closed.

During his lifetime, Draper was one of the most admired painters of classic mythologies and elegant portraits. He studied at the Royal Academy in London and participated in their official expositions for most of his career. After winning the Royal Academy Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship in 1889, he traveled frequently to Rome and Paris. His painting The Lament For Icarus (which hangs at the Tate) won the highest honor at the Paris Exposition in 1900.

Walter Charles Horsley (British, 1855-1921)

Walter Charles Horsley (British, 1855 – 1921) was born at his family’s home in Kensington in 1855, the son of the historical and genre painter John Callcott Horsley R.A. (1817-1903) by his second wife Rosamund Haden (1820-1912), sister of the etcher Sir Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910). On his paternal grandmother’s side, Walter was related to the artist Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (1779-1844); one of his paternal aunts married the acclaimed engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel while both his grandfather and uncle were composers. It was within this cultured and highly artistic milieu that Walter grew up as the eldest of seven children that included his brother Victor Alexander who became a surgeon, Gerald who became an architect and Rosamund who was an artist and writer. As one biographer noted it was Walter who “inherited his father’s power of observation” and having trained under him he then entered the prestigious Royal Academy Schools where he furthered his artistic studies and where he won a silver medal for a portrait likeness.

In 1875 Horsley made his debut at the Royal Academy where he continued to regularly exhibit up until 1911. In addition to the present work, some of his best known Academy exhibits included Shopping in Constantinople (1878), The French in Cairo (1884; Sheffield Museum Collection) portraying an incident during the Napoleonic occupation when the names of Bonaparte’s generals were inscribed upon the towers and gates of the city walls; this incensed the native population, all the more so as the chief of each quarter was obliged to be present. Like that painting Horsley’s Great Britain in Egypt, 1886 (exhibited at the RA, 1887; Gallery of New South Wales, Australia) has a humorous element in which he portrays an English and Scottish soldier being offered a pipe from a beautiful Egyptian attendant. Later Academy exhibits included numerous other Orientalist views as well as a very English scene Old Time Tuition at Dulwich College (exhibited at the RA 1906; Dulwich College Museum) portraying an amusing scene as recounted by his father; in it a group of school boys are going about their daily lessons in their master’s bedroom, where at centre stage the teacher is seated in his four-poster bed smoking a clay pipe. In addition to the Royal Academy, Horsley also showed his work at the Royal Society of British Artists and other annual exhibitions.

In 1875, the year that he first showed at the Academy, Horsley was commissioned by The Graphic magazine as an illustrator to record the Prince of Wales’s visit to India and while there the Nawab of Bahawalpur commissioned him to paint a series of hunting scenes. This trip was followed by others to India as well as numerous painting expeditions to Egypt, especially Cairo and along the banks of the Nile, Tangiers, Morocco and Turkey, in particular Istanbul (then known as Constantinople). He continued to travel east well into old age for instance in 1931, he and his wife went to Tangiers and two years later returned from a trip to India.

For much of his life Walter lived with his parents, either at their Kensington home at 1 High Row or in the Kentish village of Cranbrook at Willesley, a beautiful old house on the outskirts of the village which his father had bought in 1861 and was subsequently remodeled by the architect Norman Shaw. It was there, during his youth, that his father befriended other members of the Cranbrook Colony of artists that included Thomas Webster, F. D. Hardy and G. B. O’Neill who delighted in portraying scenes of domestic rural life. Walter eventually inherited Willesley where he and his wife spent many happy years and where he eventually died in May 1934. He did not marry until 1916, when he was 61 and chose as his bride the much younger widow named Catherine Anne Browne (1871-1956).

As a reflection of his standing Horsley’s work is represented in a number of public collections which in addition to those already mentioned includes the Royal Academy who own two portraits by him of his father, one with John Callcott Horsley working in his studio and the other showing him seated with an open book on his lap. Another of his portraits of Matilda Blanche Crawley-Boevey, Mrs. William Gibbs is housed at the National Trust property Tyntesfield, near Bristol, while his portrait of An Officer of the Northumbrian Fusiliers is owned by the National Army Museum. In addition his delightful view of The Water Seller (A Cairo Street) is owned by the National Trust property, Cragside in Northumberland, showing an elderly man and young girl riding through the streets of Cairo as they are approached by an aged man selling water. In addition to his artistic ventures, in 1881 Horsley became a Lieutenant of the Artist’s Rifles Association and from 1822 up until his death was Colonel of the Regiment.

Horsley gained considerable repute for his multi-figural genre scenes which likewise contain dramatic narrative, fine detailing, strong brushwork and are often tinged with humour. Unlike many contemporary Orientalists, Horsley viewed his subjects at first hand having travelled widely throughout India and Egypt as well as Turkey, Tangiers and Morocco.

Horsley can be considered among the great late nineteenth and early twentieth century British painters of which the present Royal Academy exhibit is one of his most charming. Well observed and sensitively painted, it has the added bonus of being housed in its original frame, featuring a frieze of palm fronds that reflect the palm trees on the distant bank in the painting itself. Given the artist’s repute and that his works seldom come onto the market, this quality painting can be considered a very rare gem.


Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973)


Pablo Picasso (Spanish 1881 – 1973), “Woman in Blue”, Painter, draughtsman, and sculptor who lived most of his life in France. He is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904) consists of somber paintings rendered in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. This period’s starting point is uncertain; it may have begun in Spain in the spring of 1901, or in Paris in the second half of the year.

Laslett John Pott, R.B.A. (British, 1837-1898)


Laslett John Pott (British 1837 – 1898), The Jester,  exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts 1884

Laslett John Pott, born and raised in Nottinghamshire, specialized in historical paintings set in the 16th through the 19th century, many chronicling Napoleon’s bloodstained battles. Catering to the preferences of the middlebrow Victorians, he also painted emotionally laden narratives and sentimental scenes from classical English literature.

From 1860 to 1897, Pott exhibited an impressive 43 works at the Royal Academy of Arts. Some of his most famous paintings are: Mary Queen of Scots on Her Way to Her Execution, Charles I After His Trial, and On the March from Moscow. Disinherited was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1884.

Pott expressed a passion for painting and displayed extraordinary talent at a very young age. However, Pott’s father insisted that his son pursue a career in architecture and forced him to become an apprentice to a local architect at the age of sixteen. Bored of columns and corbels, the younger Pott eventually persuaded his father to enroll him at a well-known art school in Bloomsbury, London. A few years later, Pott became a student of Alexander Johnstone (1815 – 1891), a Scottish history and genre painter. While training in Johnstone’s studio, Pott produced his first paintings accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy. Almost instantly Pott won the respect and admiration of the top professional art critics, as well as the general public.

When he was only 26 year old, Pott’s painting, Puss in Boots, was selected to hang “on the line” at the 1863 Royal Academy Exhibition – a huge honor, since many paintings were hung too high or too low to be viewed properly. The next year, Pott’s Rebecca describes the Fight to Ivanhoe was exhibited at the Academy, followed by Old Memories in 1865.

Pott continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy throughout his career, and was often praised by the critics at the Art Journal for both his sentiment and skill. His painting called On the March from Moscow (1873), an image of Napoleon’s defeated and downtrodden army during his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, was thought to be one of his most impressive and emotive compositions. Another subject from France’s dismal history appeared at the Academy in 1874; the painting, Paris, 1793, depicts two victims on their way to the guillotine. Although Pott was clearly drawn to the tragedy of war and the dark side of human life, he sent several paintings to the Academy that were more joyous in nature; Don Quixote at the Ball (1875) and The Jester’s Story (1891) are two of his more humorous and romantic compositions.


The Works of Laslett John Pott, James Dafforne, The Art Journal (1875-1887), New Series, Vol. 3 (1877), pp. 289-292;

The Master Painters of Britain, edited by Gleeson White, Published by T. C. & E. C. Jack (1909), pg. 288-289

“Fletcher’s of Collins Street”: Melbourne’s Leading Nineteenth-Century Art Dealer, Alexander Fletcher (1837– 1914)


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About The Curator

Carol Seelig Eastman is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Knohl Collection. In this role, she passionately explores the artist’s personal, social, and political world and places their art in a meaningful historical context. Her thematic exhibitions provide visual and educational stimulation that attract and engage a diverse museum audience.