Wednesday 25 May 2016

Edwin Landseer – part 1

1818 Edwin Landseer self-portrait
Pencil 20 x 15.5 cm
National Portrait Gallery London

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802 – 1873) was an English artist best known for his animal paintings and sculptures. Born in London, the son of engraver John Landseer A.R.A.

1796 St John the Baptist (after Benjamin West)
Engraved by John Landseer A.R.A.

Edwin was recognized early on as an artistic prodigy and at the age of just 13, exhibited at the Royal Academy. He was elected an Associate (A.R.A.) at the age of 24, and a Academician (R.A.) five years later in 1831. In his late 30s Landseer suffered what is now believed to be a ‘nervous breakdown’, and for the rest of his life was troubled by hypochondria and depression, aggravated by alcohol and drug abuse. In the last few years of his life his mental instability became more acute, and at the request of his family, was declared insane in July 1872.

Landseer’s popularity in Victorian Britain was considerable, and his reputation as an animal painter was unrivalled. Possibly his most famous painting is ‘Monarch of the Glen’ (1851) which was widely distributed at the time as engraved reproduction prints.

1851 Monarch of the Glen
Oil on canvas
National Museum of Scotland

Much of Landseer’s fame, and indeed income, was generated by the publication of engravings of his work, many of them by his brother Thomas Landseer.

Hand-coloured engraving by Thomas Landseer, after the painting
'Alexander and Diogenes by Edwin Landseer c. 1850

Queen Victoria commissioned several paintings from Landseer – royal pets, then portraits of ghillies and gamekeepers, then in the year before her marriage she commissioned a portrait of herself, as a gift to Prince Albert. Landseer made portraits of the royal babies, and two portraits of Victoria and Albert dressed for costume balls, at which he was a guest himself.

1842 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at the Bal Costumé of 12 May 1842
Oil on canvas 143 x 112 cm
Royal Collection

Landseer is particularly associated with Scotland, which he first visited in 1824, and you will see that many of his works are of Scottish subjects.

In 1858 the government commissioned Landseer to make four bronze lions for the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, following the rejection of a set of stone lions sculpted by Thomas Milnes. The monument was constructed between 1840 and 1843; the four bronze lions were added in 1867.
The rejected stone lions were purchased by industrialist Titus Salt, and can still be seen today at his ‘model’ village Saltaire in Shipley, Yorkshire, now a World Heritage Site.

One of the stone lions by Thomas Milnes, now in Saltaire, Yorkshire

Edwin Landseer working on his lion sculptures destined for Nelson's Column:

Edwin Landseer by John Ballantyne
Oil on canvas 80 x 113 cm
National Portrait Gallery London

Edwin Landseer's bronze lion sculptures in situ in Trafalgar Square, London:

Edwin Landseer died in October 1873, and his death was widely marked in England. He was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.

This part 1 of a 6 – part series on the works of Edwin Landseer:

1810c Portrait of Henry Landseer, Uncle of Edwin
Pencil on cream paper 12.2 x 11.7 cm
Royal Academy of Arts, London
(Note: Landseer would have been around 8 years old)

1811 A Short-haired Dog in Profile
Pencil on dark cream wove paper 8 x 11.3 cm
Royal Academy of Arts, London

1811 Senegal Lion

1812 Portrait Sketch of 'Mr Clarke' in Profile
Pencil on cream wove paper 13.8 x 14 cm
Royal Academy of Arts, London

1813 The Dog 'Racket'
Graphite on paper 15.9 x 22.9 cm
Tate, London

1817 A Greyhound with a Hare
Oil on canvas 43 x 54 cm
Private Collection

1817 Ecorche drawing of a wild cat
Black, red and white chalk and graphite on buff-coloured paper
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

1817-21c Ecorche drawing of the head of a greyhound
Black, red and white chalk on buff-coloured paper
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1817-22c Portrait of Sam Lovill, the Porter at the Royal Academy
Black chalk heightened with white chalk over graphite 19.5 x 15.7 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

1818c Chalk study of the hand of Laocoön
Black and white chalk on prepared wove paper 37.8 x 35.8 cm
Royal Academy of Arts, London

1819 Tapageur, the Poodle belonging to the Honorable Frederick Byng
Oil on canvas 81.3 x 106.7 cm

1819 Venus, a Landseer Newfoundland with a Rabbit
Oil on canvas 116 x 141 cm
Private Collection

1819-23c A Boy and Two Greyhounds Resting
Oil on canvas 70 x 89 cm
Cake Abbey, National Trust, near Derby, UK

1820c A Hunting Scene
Oil on canvas 54.5 x 71.7 cm
Sudley House, Liverpool Museums, UK

1825-26 The Hunting of Chevy Chase
Oil on canvas 143.5 x 170.8 cm
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, UK

1876 Chevy Chace (Chase)
Engraved by C.G.Lewis after Edwin Landseer 22.5 x 20.5 cm (sheet)

1821 Ratcatchers
Oil on board 28 x 38.7 cm
Amgueddfa Cymru, Cardiff , UK

1821-22 The Harper
Oil on canvas 91.2 x 71 cm
Tate, London

1822 A Spaniel
Transparent and opaque watercolor over graphite on light brown wove paper, mounted on cardboard 25.4 x 27.8 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA

1822 Count d'Orsay's Charger
Oil on panel 25.8 x 40.5 cm
Sheffield City Art Galleries, UK

1822 The Dog and the Shadow
Oil on panel 45.1 x 54.6 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

1822 The Twa Dogs
Oil on canvas 43.2 x 54 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Twa Dogs
Engraving by Charles Lewis after Edwin Landseer 27  x 22 cm

1823 Lord Henniker's Bay Mare, Brunette
Oil on canvas 69 x 190 cm
Vestey Gallery of British Sporting Art, British Sporting Art Trust, Newmarket, UK

1824 A Puppy Teasing a Frog
Oil on canvas 35.5 x 44.5 cm
Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, UK

1824 John Crerar and His Pony
Oil on board 58.4 x 43 cm
Perth and Kinross Council, Scotland, UK

1824 Lion: A Newfoundland Dog
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

1824 (or after) Maida
Pen and ink on light brown laid paper 9.5 x 14 cm
Royal Academy of Arts, London

1824 Sancho Panza and Dapple
Oil on panel 18.7 x 15.6 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

1824 Sir Walter Scott
Oil on canvas 61 x 51 cm
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK

1824c Sir Walter Scott, 1st Bt
Oil on panel 29.2 x 24.1 cm
National Portrait Gallery London

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