Mr Strutt and Miss Coope both worked for the company Crittall Windows in North Essex. Their portraits are part of a collection of oil paintings called 'Old Iron Portraits' commissioned by Francis Henry Crittall in the late 1920s and are in urgent need of conservation treatment. The collection of portraits reflects the company's diverse workforce from those who had joined in its early days in the 1880s to those in new roles in offices abroad and was painted by rising artists of the day. The artists were supported by tutors from the Royal Academy and the Slade School of Art Sir William Rothenstein, Sir Walter Westley Russell, Henry Tonks and Sir George Clausen.
Mr Strutt was affectionately named 'Uncle' by many who new him. He was the night watchman and lodge keeper for Crittall factory Manor Works for 31 years and was one of the most popular members of the firm. Apart from his endearing personal qualities, his striking appearance, with his tall erect figure and flowing white beard, made him one of the most familiar figures in Braintree. Miss Coope was Francis Henry Crittall's Secretary and worked from the company's London Office. Unfortunately the portrait of Miss Coope has deteriorated considerably, with much of the paint actively flaking we risk losing this portrait completely. Mr Strutt has several tears that are in need of urgent conservation and repair.
Crittall Windows started as an ironmongery business in Braintree, North Essex in 1849. In the 1890s they developed a design for a standard metal window which led to the companys global success with factories all over the world. During the First World War, employees made a significant contribution to the production of munitions and later, pre-fabricated steel Bailey bridges, which could be assembled quickly for the Allied advancement in the Second World War. Francis Henry Crittall purchased land to build a self-sufficient company village for employees between Braintree and Witham; Silver End welcomed its first inhabitants in 1926. These two portraits, along with the other paintings in the Old Iron Portrait Collection, went on display for the first time at Silver End Village hall when it opened in 1928.