CROFTS, Ernest

1847 - 1911

Born at Leeds, Yorkshire on 15 September 1847, son of John Crofts, J.P., of Adal, near Leeds and his wife Ellen née Wordsworth. He studied at Rugby School before going to Berlin and developing an interest in art and in a career as a painter. On his return to London he became a pupil of Alfred Borron Clay, but then returned to Germany this time to Dusseldorf, then a centre for historical painting, studying under German military artist, Emil Hünten, military and historical painter to the Prussian emperor. In 1874, he exhibited 'Retreat' an episode in the Franco-Prussian War during the Battle of Gravelotte, together with another scene from the same conflict 'One Touch of Nature' for which he won the Crystal Palace prize medal. Both scenes were influenced by the artist's experience of the war, especially the battles of Weissenbourg, Worth, and the siege of Strasbourg. From Dusseldorf he regularly exhibited at the annual Royal Academy exhibitions, where he met his future wife, including 'Ligny' (1875) and the following year 'The Morning of the Battle of Waterloo', which was shown at the Paris International Exhibition, and in 1877 'Oliver Cromwell at Marston Moor'. Elected an Associate of the Royal Academy on 19 June 1878 and on 20 July 1896 a full academician and his Diploma Work was entitled 'To the Rescue'. Two years later on 29 September 1898 he succeeded Philip Calderon as keeper and trustee of the RA, which gave him accommodation at Burlington House. Besides his historical scenes, Crofts also painted some contemporary military events and in 1901 King Edward VII commissioned him to paint a picture of the distribution of the war medals following the Boer War and two years later painted a scene of the funeral of Queen Victoria. He married in 1872, Elizabeth Wüsthofen of Dusseldorf, and they had one daughter, also Elizabeth, who was born at Dusseldorf about 1873. Crofts lived on The Green, next to Blythburgh church in Suffolk and died of pneumonia at Burlington House on 19 March 1911 and buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. A sale of his remaining works was held at Christie, Manson & Woods on Monday 18 December 1911. His wife Elizabeth, who died at Blythburgh, Suffolk in 1941, aged 87, was also an artist.

Works by This Painter