Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Landseer's Dog Studies

Edwin Landseer (English, 1802-1873) was an animal specialist who frequently drew and painted from life. He drew all the time: in books, on letters, even on checks.

He was the son of an artist and a child prodigy, mentored by a variety of artists and exhibiting in the Royal Academy before he was 20.

His knowledge of anatomy was profound as a result of his studies of ecorché specimens. He had an ongoing arrangement with his local zoo to dissect their animals after they died.

An early biography tells this anecdote:
"At a Court Ball at which the King of Portugal and Landseer were present, his Majesty expressed a wish to be introduced to the illustrious painter.
'Oh! Mr. Landseer,' said the King in a foreigner's English, 'I am delighted to make your acquaintance. I am so fond of beasts.'"

One time he was a guest at the Redleaf estate. His host, a faithful churchgoer, expected all his guests to accompany him on Sunday. Landseer declined to accompany the host and other guests to church, choosing to paint instead....

"...Looking out the window, he straightaway saw a spaniel catch a rabbit, and he proceeded to paint the scene from memory. When the family returned from church, they saw the finished painting, accompanied by a note: "Painted by E. Landseer in two hours and a half. Redleaf, August 1831."

Despite his success and his prodigious ability, Landseer was prone to depression and drinking. 

The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner by Edwin Landseer
In his last years, he was vexed by failing eyesight, forced to rely on inadequate glasses right when PreRaphaelitism was all the rage. A fall from a horse evidently led to brain injury. After his death, houses and shops lowered their blinds, his bronze lions at Trafalgar Square were draped with wreaths, and he was buried in Saint Paul's.
Previously on GJ
Wikipedia: Edwin Landseer
Sir Edwin Landseer by Richard Ormond
Free book on Archive.org: Sir Edwin Landseer by James A. Manson, 1902

"Painting Animals from Life" digital download

DVD at Amazon (Releases Aug. 10)


Jim Douglas said...

Fun fact: The great English architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944) was named after a friend of his father, the painter and sculptor Edwin Henry Landseer.

In his biography, the writer Christopher Hussey wrote, "In his lifetime (Lutyens) was widely held to be our greatest architect since Wren if not, as many maintained, his superior." The architectural historian Gavin Stamp described him as "surely the greatest British architect of the twentieth (or of any other) century."

Karen Eade said...

I remember reading that Sir Edwin Landseer was ambidextrous and his party trick included drawing on napkins at dinner parties - simultaneously a horse with his left hand and a stag with his right hand.