in Windsor Home Park
Queen Victoria Prince Albert Windsor Castle
Queen Victoria Windsor
Sir Edwin Henry Landseer
(7 March 1802 - 1 October 1873)
The greatest British animal painter of the nineteenth century and, for his contemporaries, the greatest artist of the age. His admirers included Queen Victoria who thought him ‘the cleverest artist there is’ among all the distinguished artists of her reign. Landseer was perhaps the most important contributor to the shaping of the Queen’s Highland image.
Artist credited with making a powerful influence on the Newfoundland breed. Although it has been said that he painted the white-and-blacks because their coloring made a brighter picture, he is honored by having that variety named the Landseer Newfoundland. His paintings not only helped popularize the breed, but created a fashion in that time for the white-and-blacks.
Part of Landseer’s popularity was due to the fact that his brothers, as expert engravers, made many copies of his works, and thus it was possible for people of small means to afford them. It was a poor English household that did not have a copy of Landseer’s pictures on its walls. Many Americans can recall, with nostalgia, their first acquaintance with the reproductions of Landseer’s paintings as they were favorites with printmakers in America.
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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
at the Bal Costumé 12-May-1842
Return from Hawking
Midsummer Night's Dream
The life of Sir Edwin Landseer has a special charm and story fascination. Here is an artist who found his greatest interest in animals, which he made the subject of most of his pictures.
He was born in London in 1802. His father encouraged his art inclinations and spent much time with him. They took frequent walks into the fields, where they could talk about the things that they saw and make sketches of them.
When Landseer was only 11 years old, he was awarded a prize by the Society of Arts for the best drawing of animals. Before he was 12 years of age, he could paint in water colors and oil. These early sketches are now preserved in South Kensington Museum, London. At the age of 13, two of his oil paintings were hung in the Royal Academy Exhibition in London. His picture of a pointer bitch and puppy won the acclaim of the judges for being the first dog pictures since the time of Hogarth to show individuality and character. This recognition greatly encouraged the boy.
As he grew older, wherever he could find animals, there he went. He studied the drawings of Raphael, and the Elgin marbles, which had recently been brought to England. He went to the forests and zoos to find live animals. He also did illustrations for children’s books. All this study gave strength to his talent.
Landseer’s formal art training began when he entered the Academy at 15 years of age. Possessing a charming appearance and a lovable disposition, he won the hearts of everyone. The president of the Academy even call him his "little dog boy."
In 1824, Landseer visited Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford, and made many pictures of the poet and his dog. It was this trip to Scotland that engaged Landseer’s interest in the deer. The mountain and lake scenery impressed the artist so greatly that he travelled often in that country, thereafter.
Landseer, as a conversationalist, was brilliant, humorous, and dramatic. He delighted in social life. When he opened his studio and home at No. 1 St. John’s Wood Road, it became a popular gathering place. Here the world came to enjoy "one of the most charming of studios" and the company and talent of one of England’s most sought-after artists. As the nobility had come to the studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds to have their portraits painted, so this generation sought Sir Edwin, to have portraits made of themselves, or to have their fine dogs immortalized by his brush.
Among his greatest admirers was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Landseer was often their guest, painting their animals, and teaching both the Queen and her husband the fascinating art of etching. From Queen Victoria, in 1850, he received the honor of knighthood. In the year 1865, he was elected President of the Royal Academy, but his health and his powers were failing, so he declined the honor offered him. He was feeling sadly that he had outlived his greatness; hand and brain were growing alike feeble, and he had times of melancholy and nervous distress, when he would shut himself up from the society of his dearest friends. One more great triumph remained to him—the completion of the grand lions in Trafalgar Square, placed in position in 1867, and six years later the weary painter went to his rest. He was mourned both in England and America.
Landseer’s great success and popularity are due almost entirely to his portrayals of dogs, though among his pictures are paintings of many other animals. He handled his subjects with great dramatic power, using a simple directness and a poetic, imaginative quality in his interpretation of animal life. He had a clever technique with his brush and achieved a remarkable skill in rendering textures.
Perhaps few pictures are so well-known to us, by engraving and photograph, as those of Sir Edwin Landseer. They will always be loved by those who respond to the friendliness of animals.
Surely, when Sir Edwin Landseer was laid to rest in the crypt of St. Paul’s, there must have been many a loving dog-friend left to miss the voice and hand of the painter who had won their hearts.
Landseer was a brilliant animal painter whose work had added appeal in the Victorian age because of his tendency to give his animal scenes a moral dimension. These pictures were widely circulated in his time in the form of engravings, often made by his brother Thomas. Edwin Landseer was the youngest son of an engraver. The three Landseer brothers studied under Benjamin Robert Haydon, the historical painter, from 1815. Haydon encouraged Landseer to study animal anatomy. In 1816, Landseer entered the Royal Academy Schools, but he had already exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in the previous year. He was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1826 aged only twenty four, and full Academician in 1831 when not yet thirty.
In 1824 Landseer made the first of many visits to Scotland. He fell in love with the Highlands, which inspired many of his later paintings such as 'The Monarch of the Glen' (Royal Academy 1851, John Dewar & Sons Limited). He also visited Sir Walter Scott, who admired his paintings and chose him as one of the illustrators to the Waverley edition of his novels. In the 1830s his work gained wide popularity and was bought both by the aristocracy and the newly important middle class. He himself moved freely in aristocratic circles, and after 1836 he enjoyed royal patronage, especially in the 1840s when Victoria and Albert also discovered Scotland. He paid his first visit to their home, Balmoral in 1850, to paint a large group portrait of the royal family. He was knighted that year even though the painting was never finished.
After a breakdown, partly caused by the failure of the royal portrait, Landseer had a permanent fight against depression and ill health, although he continued to paint brilliantly almost until the end of his life. In the 1860s he modelled the lions at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square and these were unveiled in 1867. In 1866 he declined the presidency of the Royal Academy, and after 1870 sank slowly into madness.
Landseer Family of Painters [.pdf]
View painter's art: Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873)
Edwin Henry Landseer
(7 March 1802 – 1 October 1873)
Queen Anne Street, the dull, decorous, almost dismal thoroughfare in the region of Cavendish Square, can never be without honor from all lovers of art and of England, for there was the home of Turner, and the studio in which the great landscape-painter executed his most noble works. Greater claim even than that may the gloomy street advance for the respect of lovers of art, since in the building numbered 83, and then occupied by John Landseer, the engraver, Edwin Landseer was born, on or about the 7th of March, 1802. His baptismal name was Edwin Henry, but the latter part of it was soon dropped, and is not known during his future life.Artist - Biographies. - Landseer. - (Moses Foster Sweetser), 1879; Mr. Algernon Graves's Catalogue of the Works of the late Sir Edwin Landseer, R. A.; Memoirs of Sir Edwin Landseer Mr. F. G. Stephens; Mr. W. Cosmo Monkhouse.
LANDSEER, Sir Edwin, R.A,, an painter, son of John Landseer, an eminent engraver, was born in London in 1802, and was carefully trained by his father, who used to take him out, when only a child, to Hampstead Heath, and accustom him to sketch animals from life. The first work of Landseer's that brought him prominently before the public was "Dogs Fighting," exhibited in 1819. It was succeeded by the "Dogs of St. Gothard" (1819), the popularity of which was very great. The scene of several of his finest pictures is laid in the Highlands of Scotland. For upwards of thirty years, every London exhibition has witnessed his success. In 1827, he was elected a R.A., and in 1850, he was Knighted.
Among his most celebrated achievements are:
Landseer was elected president of the royal academy in 1866, but declined the honor. He died Oct. 1, 1873. Landseer is reckoned the most superb animal painter of his time. Most of his pictures have been engraved. He had two elder brothers. Charles (1799-1879), a painter of historical and figure subjects, and Thomas (d. 1880), a noted engraver. George (d. 1878), son of Thomas, was a portrait painter.The International Cyclopedia: A Compendium of Human Knowledge, Volume 8, Richard Gleason Greene, Dodd, Mead, 1890.
SIR EDWIN LANDSEER
We have to announce the death yesterday morning, at 10.40, of Sir Edwin Landseer. Sir Edwin had been long known to be in a most precarious state of health, but the news will not the less shock and grieve the worlds both of art and of society, in which he was an equal favourite. The great painter never, however, courted publicity; he was singularly reticent about all that concerned himself, and it is astonishing to find how little was known to his contemporaries respecting his early career.
The grandfather of Sir Edwin, we are told, settled as a jeweller in London in the middle of the last century; and here, it is said, his father, Mr. John Landseer, was bom in 1761, though another account fixes Lincoln as his birthplace, and his birth itself at a later date. John Landseer became an engraver, rose to eminence in his line of art, became an Associate of the Royal Academy, and having held that position for nearly fifty years, died in 1852. He was largely employed in engraving pictures for the leading publishers, including Macklin, who engaged him on the illustrations to his Bible; this employment led to his marriage with a Miss Pott, a great friend of the Macklins, and whose portrait as a peasant girl, with a sheaf of corn upon her head, was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence. The issue of this marriage consisted of three daughters and also of three sons -- Thomas, bom in or about the year 1795; Charles, bom in 1799; and Edwin, the youngest, in 1802. In 1806, Mr. John Landseer delivered to large audiences at the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street a series of lectures on engraving, in which he laid down broader, higher, and truer views of that branch of art than those which had hitherto prevailed. His name will also be remembered by many as the author of Observations on the Engraved Gems brought from Babylon to England by Mr. Abraham Lockett in 1817; Sabœan Researches, another work on the same subject; and a Description of Fifty of the Earliest Pictures in the National Gallery. He subsequently edited the Review of the Fine Arts and the Probe. Later in life he exhibited at the Academy some water-colour studies from Druidical temples, and finally engraved his son Edwin's "Dogs of St. Bernard," of which he wrote also a small explanatory pamphlet. The chief work, however, of John Landseer lay in bringing up his three sons, of whom the eldest is as well known by his engravings as was his father, and the second was elected Keeper of the Academy in 1851. The artistic education of Edwin Landseer was commenced at an early age under the eye of his father, who, after the example of the greatest masters, directed him to the study of nature herself, and sent him constantly to Hampstead Heath and other suburban localities to make studies of donkeys, sheep, and goats. A series of early drawings and etchings from his hand, preserved in the South Kensington Museum, will serve to show how faithful and true an interpreter of nature the future Academician was even more than half a century since, for some of his efforts are dated as early as his eighth year, so that he is a standing proof that precocity does not always imply subsequent failure. Indeed he drew animals correctly and poweifully even before he was five years old!
His first appearance, however, as a painter dates from 1815, when, at the age of thirteen, he exhibited two paintings at the Academy; they are entered in the catalogue as Nos. 443 and 584 -- "Portrait of a Mule" and "Portraits of a Pointer Bitch and Puppy," and the young painter appears as Master E. Landseer, 33 Foley Street. In the following year he was one of the exhibitors at "the Great Room in Spring Gardens," then engaged for "the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours," along with De Wint, Chalon, and the elder Pugin; about the same time, too, we find him receiving regular instruction in art as a pupil in the studio of Haydon, and the residence of the family in Foley Street was the very centre of a colony of artists and literary celebrities. Mulready, Stothard, Benjamin West, A. E. Chalon, Collins, Constable, Daniel, Flaxman, and Thomas Campbell all lived within a few hundred yards of John Landseer's house; and from their society young Landseer, we may be sure, took care to draw profit and encouragement. He also derived considerable assistance from a study of the Elgin marbles at Burlington House, where they lay for some time before finding a home in the British Museum. These ancient treasures he was led to study by the advice of his teacher Haydon. In the same year (1816) he was admitted as a student to the Royal Academy. In the following year he exhibited "Brutus, a portrait of a Mastiff," at the Academy, and also a "Portrait of an Alpine Mastiff," at the Gallery in Spring Gardens already mentioned.
With the year 1818, commenced an important epoch in the life of Landseer. His "Fighting Dogs Getting Wind," exhibited this summer at the rooms of the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours, excited an extraordinary amount of attention; and, being purchased by Sir George Beaumont, it set the stream of fashion in his favour. Sir David Wilkie, writing to Haydon at this date, remarked, as much in earnest as in jest, "Young Landseer's jackasses are good."
"The Cat Disturbed" was young Landseer's chief picture in 1819; it was exhibited at the Royal Institution; here, also, were exhibited about the same date his "Lion enjoying his Repast," and a companion picture, a "Lion disturbed at his Repast." In these paintings it is not fanciful or absurd to say that an educated eye can detect the hand of the designer of the lions which guard the Nelson Monument in Trafalgar Square. His opportunity for studying the anatomy of the lion had arisen shortly before, we are told, through the death of one of the old lions in Exeter 'Change, and his subsequent dissection in Landseer's presence.
In 1821, he exhibited at the Academy his "Ratcatchers," which was subsequently engraved by his brother Thomas; and at the British Institution another sporting picture, entitled "Pointers, So-ho." In 1822, he was fortunate enough to obtain the premium of £150 from the directors of the British Institution for his celebrated picture "The Larder Invaded." This was followed next year by "The Watchful Sentinel," contributed to the Exhibition of the British Institution, now in the Sheepshanks Gallery at South Kensington, and styled "The Angler's Guard." It represents a large brown and white Newfoundland dog and a white Italian greyhound seated and keejiing strict watch and ward over a fishing-rod and basket. In 1824, he exhibited, also at the Royal Institution, "The Cat's Paw," which, we believe, hangs, or hung, in the dining-room at Cashiobury, the seat of Lord Essex in Hertfordshire. "Taking a Buck," "The Widow," and a stray "Portrait" were Landseer's contributions to the Academy in 1825, and in the same summer his "Poacher" was hung on the walls of the British Institution. In the following season was shown at the Academy his "Hunting of Chevy Chase," an important picture, which has often been exhibited since. In the same year Landseer removed to the house in St. John's Wood Road, where he fixed his studio to the last. In 1826, he exhibited at the Royal Institution the picture of "The Dog and the Shadow," which is now at South Kensington. If we may trust the compiler of the monograph on Sir E. Landseer's Early Works, published by Messrs. Bell and Daldy in 1869, it was about this time that, being asked by Lord and Lady Holland to sit for his portrait to Landseer, Sydney Smith sent the well-known reply, "Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?"
It can scarcely be supposed that it was merely the exhibition of "Chevy Chase" which led to Edwin Landseer's election at this time to an Associateship of the Royal Academy. The fact is that the honour was anticipated long before, and that the election was made almost as a matter of course immediately on his attaining the age of four-and-twenty -- the limit prescribed by the laws of the Academy. It may be interesting to our readers to know that the only other artists to whom a like compliment has been paid are Sir Thomas Lawrence and Mr. J. E. Millais.
It was in this year that Landseer paid his first visit to the Highlands -- a district of which it may be said with truth that for more than thirty years he was the prophet and interpreter, and from which he drew more subjects than from any other, illustrating its men, its animals, and its landscapes with almost unvaried success. "The Chiefs Return from Deer-stalking," exhibited at the Academy in 1827, may be regarded as the first fruits alike of this northern tour and of his Associateship. Together with this appeared his "Monkey who had seen the World," showing the reunion of "Pug" and his untravelled friends at home. Meantime, in spite of his election to the Academy, he proved that he did not forget his acquaintances and friends at the British Institution, to which he contributed, in the same year, another picture of "Chevy Chase," and "A Scene at Abbotsford," representing Sir Walter Scott's favourite dog Maida reclining by a piece of ancient armour. The year 1828, was one of comparative rest to Landseer -- at all events, it was productive of no contribution to the exhibitions of the day; but in 1829, he produced his "Illicit Whisky Still in the Highlands," and "A Fireside Party" (now at South Kensington), in which the terriers which figure as the principal characters are said to have been the original "Peppers and Mustards" so graphically described in Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott.
The year 1830, witnessed the election of Landseer to the full honours of the Academy; and from that date to the end of his long career there is little for a biographer to do but to chronicle a long and regular catalogue of pictures year by year, exhibited either at the British Institution or else on the walls of the Academy at Somerset House, in Trafalgar Square, and at Burlington House. Of these, the best known and most popular are his
These were all exhibited, with many others, by Landseer during the first ten years after he began to write the letters "R.A." after his name. They were almost all of them great favourites at their first appearance, and are well known to the world by the engravings of them. They may be regarded as marking the perfection of Landseer's style.
To the next decade of Landseer's life belong
In these, too, as in the productions of Landseer in the previous decade, we see the canine element and also the Highland element well represented; but, upon the whole, we should say that these works have never gained the hold on the popular estimation which confessedly was accorded to those of 1830-40.
With the year 1851, the Highland sketches occur less frequently, and there is a corresponding increase in ideal subjects in the published list of Landseer's works. Among the pictures exhibited by him at the Academy in 1851-60, we may particularise his
The closing decade of Landseer's artistic career shows but little falling off from the preceding, either in the number or in the power of its productions.
It is not our purpose, nor, indeed, would it he possible, here tn enter into any minute and detailed criticism on the works of Landseer. His paintings are well known in the household of every educated man through the length and breadth of the land. His lions at the foot of the Nelson Column in Trafalgar Square, his only known elfort in the sister art of sculpture, are so well kmjwn to the puldic, and were made the subject of so much criticism in the columns of the newsapers at the time of their completion, that we need only allude to them here.
It only remains to add that he received from Her Majesty, in 1850, the honour of Kniglithood. He received also the large gold medal from the authorities of the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1855. A few years ago, upon the death of Sir Charles Eastlake, he was offered the Presidency of the Royal Academy, but his modesty led him to decline the distinction. In private life he was one of the most kind and courteous of men and the warmest of friends; and in very many circles, from royalty downwards, people will miss with regret his round, merry, genial face, his white hair, and his pleasant smile.Eminent Persons, Biographies Reprinted from The Times, Volume I., 1870-1875, (1892).
Landseer, Sir Edwin, R. A. Born in London (1802-1873). Youngest son of John Landseer, a distinguished engraver, from whom his children inherited their decided artistic talent. Edwin received his first lessons in drawing from his father, and at a very early age displayed great abilities as a sketcher and that love of the brute creation which has been displayed in his works. At the South Kensington Museum are shown some of these wonderfully clever drawings, executed by him when a child of from five to ten years. In 1816, he entered the Royal Academy, contributing at the same time, when only fourteen years of age, pictures to several of the public galleries throughout the country. He subsequently studied under Haydon. His "Dogs Fighting" (engraved by his father) was painted in 1818, and "The Dogs of St. Gothard discovering a Traveler in the Snow" (also engraved by the elder Landseer) was painted in 1820. From that time his success was established, and his popularity as an artist unequaled, until the day of his death, by that of any artist in England of the nineteenth century.
In 1826, he was elected Associate of the Royal Academy, and Academician in 1831. He made his first trip to the Highlands of Scotland in 1826, and there acquired that bolder and freer style which distinguishes his maturer works, and there also first evinced his fondness for deer as subjects. Soon after this he painted
"Take, for instance, one of the most perfect poems or pictures (I use the words as synonymous) which modern times have seen, 'The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner.' Here the exquisite execution of the glossy and crisp hair of the dog, the bright, sharp touching of the green bough beside it, the clear painting of the wood of the coffin, are language, -- language clear and expressive in the highest degree It ranks as high art, and stamps its author, not as the neat imitator of the texture of a skill or the fold of a drapery, but as the man of mind." -- Ruskin's Modern Painters.
"One of Stanfield's landscapes or of Landseer's hunting-pieces is worth all the mystic daubs of all the Germans." -- Macaclay's Life and Letters, Vol. II. Chap. XIV.
"Landseer has great merit not only as a painter of deer and dogs and horses, but as an artist most skillful in his delineation of human figures, and of original genius in the representation of vast subjects in small isolated series of individualized parts conceived and wrought out with such powers of comprehension and concentration that in a single episode of 'Peace' and 'War,' all of the blessings of the former, all of the horrors of the latter, are conveyed to the mind of the person who looks on these masterpieces. There is in Landseer's compositions an exquisite delicacy of organization, an acute sense of perception of all that is harmonious in nature or art, a nervous susceptibility of all impressions, pleasing or poetical, such as it would be difficult to find in other artists." -- Memoirs of the Countess of Blessington.
"Landseer has been distinguished for his masterly handling of his art and the singular expertness with which he has been able to paint. His pictures have been largely engraved, and have commanded a large sale. Hardly a house which contains an engraving at all is without one of a picture of Landseer." -- Mrs. Tytler's Modern Painters.
"As monumental sculptures these Lions of Landseer's in Trafalgar Square have been a mistake throughout; badly planned, badly modeled, and badly cast." -- Saturday Review, 1807.
"The noble Lions at the foot of Nelson's Column were added by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1867. Only one of them was modeled; a slight variation in the treatment adapted the others to their pedestals. Their chief grandeur lies in their mighty simplicity." -- Hare's Walks in London, 1878.Artists of the Nineteenth Century, their Works, Biographical Sketches, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.
Landseer's death on 1 October 1873, was widely marked in England: shops and houses lowered their blinds, flags flew at half mast, his bronze lions at the base of Nelson's column were hung with wreaths, and large crowds lined the streets to watch his funeral cortege pass. Landseer was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London. At his death, Landseer left behind three unfinished paintings: "Finding the Otter", "Nell Gwynne" and "The Dead Buck", all on easels in his studio. It was his dying wish that his friend John Everett Millais should complete the paintings, and this he did.J. Millais, Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, John Guille (1899).