Eyre Crowe, A Man Sleeping in the King's Library of The British Museum, a black chalk drawing

London, England, AD 1882

Eyre Crowe (1824-1910) spent his early years in Paris where he studied under Paul Delaroche, who had briefly taught J.F. Millet. In 1845 he entered the Royal Academy schools.. Crowe published an illustrated description of his cousin William Makepeace Thackeray's lecture tour of the Unites States in 1893. Crowe's career was occupied mostly with paintings of eighteenth-century literary and artistic figures, but he also produced a number of striking, unsentimental pictures that drew attention to neglected social issues.

This crisp sketch shows a man asleep in the King's Library, one of the largest and finest rooms in London, which runs the length of the east side of The British Museum. The Library was built to house the 60,000 volumes in the collection of King George III in what was then the garden of Montagu House, which held the Museum's collections. It was designed by Sit Robert Smirke (1781-1867), who subsequently added new wings to form the quadrangle, now the Great Court, at the centre of the present museum. The King's Library is 300 feet (91.5 metres) long, and has 108 cupboards on each side. In 1997 the books were moved to the new British Library at St. Pancras, and in 2003 the King's Library will re-open as a permanent gallery dedicated to the Age of Discovery and Learning, 1753-1827.

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E. Paintin, The Kings Library (London, British Library, 1989)


Height: 211.000 mm
Width: 163.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1980-5-10-26


Presented by Mrs J. Naimaster in memory of her husband, Jack Naimaster


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