Sir Edwin Landseer by Stephens, Frederic George

produced from images available at The Internet Archive)




_The following volumes, each illustrated with from 14 to 20 Engravings, are now ready, price 3s. 6d._


_The following volumes are in preparation_:--


[Illustration: _Deerhound’s Heads._]

“_The whole world without Art would be one great wilderness._”









(_All rights reserved._)







The text of a former work on the early productions of Sir Edwin Landseer has been, for the second time, revised and extended by the author; and the subject has been continued to the death of the artist.

The biographer’s aim is achieved if he has successfully shown the course of the artist’s studies, and their result in success of an extraordinary kind.

_June, 1880._




Origin of the Landseer family--Parentage of Edwin Henry Landseer--Thomas Landseer 1


Early life--Landseer’s first studio--Etchings--First picture at the Royal Academy--Haydon’s studio 16


A fully-developed painter--Early paintings--British Institution--The Cat’s Paw 39


At St. John’s Wood--Chevy Chase--Chief’s Return from Deer-stalking--Made Royal Academician (1830)--Lassie herding sheep 58


Suspense--Highland Shepherd Dog--Bolton Abbey--Drover’s departure--Shepherd’s Chief Mourner--Dignity and Impudence--Otters and Salmon--The Sanctuary 72


Windsor Castle in the present time--Not caught yet--The Otter speared--Shoeing--The random shot--Dialogue at Waterloo--Landseer knighted 87


Sir Edwin Landseer--The Monarch of the Glen--Midsummer Night’s Dream--Maid and Magpie--The Flood in the Highlands 94


Man proposes, God disposes--The Connoisseurs--The Swannery invaded--Closing Years--Death of Landseer 105


_From Etchings by Edwin Landseer and C. G. Lewis._


1. DOGS WORRYING A FROG. Etched by Edwin Landseer (1822) xii

2. LOW LIFE. ” ” ” (1822) 7

3. A SHEPHERD’S DOG. ” ” ” (1824) 13

4. THE BEGGARS. ” ” ” (1824) 19

5. DONKEYS ON A COMMON. ” ” ” (1824) 25

6. FOUR IRISH GREYHOUNDS. ” ” ” (1825) _Front._

7. EAGLE AND RED DEER. ” ” ” (1825) 31

8. THE RABBIT WARREN. ” ” ” (1826) 37

9. RETURN FROM DEER-STALKING. ” ” ” (1826) 43

THE MOTHERS. Drawn by Edwin Landseer in 1837.

10. HIGHLAND NURSE. Etched by C. G. Lewis “ (1847) 49

11. MARE AND FOAL. ” ” ” (1847) 55

12. DOG AND PUPS. ” ” ” (1847) 61

13. COW AND CALF. ” ” ” (1847) 69

14. DONKEY AND FOAL. ” ” ” (1847) 77

15. GOAT AND KIDS. ” ” ” (1847) 85

16. SOW AND PIGS. ” ” ” (1847) 93

17. SHEEP AND LAMBS. ” ” ” (1847) 101

The head and tail pieces are from Etchings by Edwin Landseer for the GAME CARD at Woburn Abbey (1825).



1802. Born at 83, Queen Anne Street East 16

1812. Studied at Hampstead 17

1815. Exhibited pictures at Royal Academy 28

Attended Haydon’s Studio 32

1818. Exhibited “Fighting Dogs” 42

1822. Received a premium of £150 from the Directors of the British Institution 51

1824. First visit to the Highlands 55

1825. Took the house in St. John’s Wood 58

1826. Made Associate of the Royal Academy 60

1830. Made Royal Academician 62

1850. Knighted 93

1859. Received the Commission for the Lions for the Nelson Monument 108

1860. Exhibited “Flood in the Highlands” 100

1866. The “Lions” were placed in Trafalgar Square 108

1869. The Swannery invaded 108

1873. Died October 1st 112

Buried in St. Paul’s, October 11th 112

[Illustration: DOGS WORRYING A FROG (1822).]




So much of the family history of this artist as it is needful to repeat, or the reader will care to learn, may be briefly told: it begins with his grandfather, who was a jeweller settled in London, where, in 1761,[2] his father, John Landseer, was born. The senior was on intimate terms with Peter, father of the lawyer and politician, Sir Samuel Romilly. Peter Romilly was descended from a distinguished French family, the first of whom known in this country settled near London after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and acquired a fortune as a wax-bleacher. This Peter was a jeweller of note and wealth, established in Frith Street, Soho, and it is probable that common interest in a craft which is so closely allied to art had much to do with directing the minds of John, and consequently those of his family, to design. It is certain that in the early life of Sir Samuel Romilly he gave considerable attention to painting and its sister studies--architecture, and anatomy as applied to the arts. His biographer tells us that the future lawyer attended the lectures delivered on these subjects by Dr. William Hunter and James Barry at the Royal Academy, and doubtless those which, as we shall presently see, John Landseer, his friend--for the affection of the fathers was continued with the sons--pronounced with noteworthy effect at the Royal Institution. These discourses of John Landseer’s, as printed and published at a later date, and entitled “Lectures on the Art of Engraving,” 1807, still supply the body of one of the best text-books in our language on the principles and practice of that art.

How John Landseer became an engraver may not be difficult to understand when we recollect that the art which he fortunately illustrated, was, for modern use at least, first exercised if not invented by a jeweller and goldsmith, and that most of the early European artists in gold and jewellery not only worked in their proper crafts, but, for the service of the printing-press, incised silver and copper plates with the graver and needle. From Holbein to Stothard, before and since their days, some of the greatest artists have applied their genius to the designing of jewellery. Hogarth engraved on household plate before he etched or cut copper to immortal uses. As etchers, or autographic artists on metal, both John Landseer and his son Edwin distinguished themselves. Conversely, the best etchers have been and are painters, from Dürer, and Rembrandt, and Van Dyck, to MM. Rajon and Palmer of our own day. The etchings of our chief subject are among his least known yet most admirable works; Thomas, Edwin’s senior, another son of John Landseer, was one of the most eminent engravers of this age.

Observing the ability of his son John, Landseer the jeweller obtained for him the assistance of William Byrne, one of the best instructors of that period, who, with Hearne, had been engaged in the production of “The Antiquities of Great Britain,” and singly, in preparing many topographical works, such as “Views of the Lakes of Cumberland,” and “Italian Scenery.” Sea-pieces by Vernet, landscapes by Both and Claude Lorrain, Turner’s contributions to “Britannia Depicta,” and a fine “View of Niagara,” by Wilson, occupied this venerable artist, who was one of the ablest in his profession, and a pupil of Aliamet and Wille, as Hearne, his partner in “The Antiquities,” had been a pupil of William Woollett.[3]

William Byrne was one of those stout “out-siders” of the Royal Academy who, with Woollett, Schiavonetti, Sharp, Hall, and Strange, refused to place their names as candidates for the half-honours of the Associateship to that body so long as the upper grade of Academicianship in full was denied to members of their profession. Some of the more eminent English engravers, among whose names that of Mr. John Pye is distinct, held themselves aloof from the Academical body on this as well as on other accounts. This exclusion of engravers from their full professional honours had, as we shall see, great effect on the career of John Landseer, and the law by which it was produced has only within the last ten years been modified by the admission without reserve of Mr. S. Cousins to the Academicianship, after he, with Mr. Doo, had passed through the anomalous grade of Academician-Engravers, which seemed to have been instituted in order to draw the line sharply between members of their profession and those other artists who practised painting, sculpture and architecture. This line was drawn with such emphasis that Bartolozzi was elected, not as an engraver, but as a painter, he having painted a picture in order to evade the law of the Academy. Byrne, like his pupil, John Landseer, was earnest in charitable works for his fellow-artists; thus, we find his name as one of the Directors of the Society of Engravers for the benefit of poor professors of the art, their widows and orphans. John Landseer was one of the founder-members of the Artists’ Fund, and associated therein with the Schiavonettis, Raimbach, and Heath, to whom as painters, Mulready, Mr. Linnell, and others of good standing were joined. Mr. John Pye was among the most active members of this society, its ablest expositor, and practically its founder.

No artist among Englishmen, not even Turner, Stothard, Wilkie, nor Hogarth himself, owed so much of his popular honours to engraving as Edwin Landseer; in Mr. Thomas Landseer’s hands, and by the hands of other skilful engravers, the pictures of the distinguished animal-painter obtained a popularity which would otherwise be impossible; and it may be said, with but little strain on the terms, that the engravers have repaid his son for the devotion of John Landseer to their art. Not only was the popularity of Sir Edwin immensely extended by engravings, but the greater part of his fortune accrued by means of copyrights and the sale of prints.

Having got over the early difficulties of his profession, the first works of John Landseer were vignettes after De Loutherbourg’s landscapes; intended, says the author of an excellent article in “The Literary Gazette,” to which we are indebted for some of the facts of this biography of the engraver, for the “Bible” of Macklin, the once “great” publisher. These plates were produced in the heat of the contest between Alderman Boydell and Macklin, who struggled which should employ the ablest artists to paint for their respective ventures in engraving. The “Shakespeare” of the former enthusiastic speculator is the best known of these publications. To him, indirectly, we owe the establishment of the now defunct British Institution, and all the knowledge of ancient and modern art which it diffused during more than sixty years.

One of Boydell’s efforts to establish his large venture secured the aid of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was considered not only the ablest portrait-painter of that day, but acceptable to the public as a producer of historical and fancy subjects. As to the last, it is not too much to state that the cost was thrown away. It would have been better for Reynolds’s reputation if he had restricted himself to that mode of art in which he was a master. It is said that a bank-note for fifty pounds slipped in the hand of Sir Joshua had much to do in dispelling the apathy with which he was supposed to regard the schemes of Boydell. This statement may be believed by those who choose to do so, not by us. Nevertheless, Reynolds did paint pictures for Boydell, and among these was the famous “Puck,” which is noteworthy for producing the enormous sum of 980 guineas when sold, with the Rogers Collection, to Earl Fitzwilliam; Rogers bought it at Boydell’s sale for 215_l._ 5_s._ It is now at Wentworth House, and very much faded. Boydell gave Reynolds 100 guineas for this painting, of which--when exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1789, about the time John Landseer was working from De Loutherbourg’s vignettes--Walpole wrote that it was “an ugly little imp, with some character, sitting on a mushroom as big as a millstone.” Reynolds likewise painted for Boydell “The Death of Cardinal Beaufort,” of which there is a version in the Dulwich Gallery. For the former of these the Earl of Egremont gave, at the publisher’s sale, 530_l._ 8_s._; Boydell paid Reynolds 500 guineas for it, June 22, 1789. The well-known painting of “The Witches meeting Macbeth” is noted in Reynolds’s ledger as “not yet begun,” although, June 1786, the President received 500 guineas for it. These were the three pictures produced by Reynolds for Boydell’s “Shakespeare;” their painting is closely connected with our story.

In publishing large and boldly-illustrated works Boydell’s rival was Macklin, who, as he contemplated a “Bible” of even greater pretensions than those of his antagonist’s “Shakespeare,” needed the countenance of the President of the Royal Academy as much as his aldermanic antagonist.[4] Of Reynolds Macklin bought “Tuccia, the Vestal Virgin,” an illustration of Gregory’s “Ode to Meditation,” for which he paid, says Northcote, 300 guineas, though Reynolds’s ledger refers to the receipt of 200 guineas only; Macklin bought for 500 guineas “The Holy Family,” which is now in the National Gallery; and, for a still larger sum,--which it would be difficult to ascertain, as the entry in Reynolds’s ledger confuses it with the prices of various works, in all more than two thousand pounds--a painting which is sometimes called “Macklin’s Family Picture,” or “The Cottagers,” otherwise “The Gleaners,” and represents an Arcadian scene, such as Macklin would have rejoiced to realize as it might appear before the door of a cottage, with the publisher, his wife, and their daughter seated in domestic happiness, with Miss Potts,[5] a dear and beautiful friend of theirs,

[Illustration: _Low Life._]

standing with a sheaf of corn on her head; the last-named figure claims the greatest interest from all who admire the works of the Landseers; because, in a short time after the damsel sat to Sir Joshua in this charming guise, she was married to John, the young engraver, and thus became the mother of Thomas, Charles, Edwin Henry, and four daughters of his name.[6] It is understood that John Landseer and Miss Potts were first acquainted in the house of Macklin, and it is believed that the marriage was, in more than a single sense, an artistic one. Bartolozzi engraved, in 1794, the portrait of a Miss Emily Pott, after Reynolds, as “Thais.” This was _not_ the lady now in question.

The introduction of these lovers to each other occurred, we believe, through the employment of John Landseer by Macklin to execute plates for his “Bible.” In these works, several of the best engravers of that time were associated with him; among them Bromley, Heath, and Skelton. Not long after this, that is, in 1792, we find John Landseer exhibiting at the Royal Academy, the only year, we believe, ere he became an Associate of that body, in which he vouchsafed to do so. His contribution was “View from the Hermit’s Hole, Isle of Wight” (No. 541), and his address was given at 83, Queen Anne Street East.[7] A few years later he was occupied in the production of plates from drawings by Turner and Ibbetson, styled “Views in the Isle of Wight,” a series which came to an early end. John Landseer’s share of this work was confined to “Orchard Bay,” “Shanklin Bay,” and “Freshwater Bay.” He engraved “High Torr,” after Turner, for Whitaker’s “History of Richmondshire,” a very fine specimen of his skill; this book was published by Longmans in 1823; and, for “The Picturesque Tour in Italy,” he executed “The Cascade of Terni,” which is one of Turner’s best pictures. These were, we believe, all Landseer’s transcripts from the works of the great master of English landscape art. His largest series of plates was styled “Twenty Views of the South of Scotland,” and made after drawings by James Moore: another group of engravings was executed from drawings of animals by the Dutch masters, Rubens, Snyders, Rembrandt, and others; these plates show not only his remarkable skill, but the current of his mind towards animal subjects, such as his sons, Thomas and Edwin Henry, have pre-eminently illustrated. In addition to the above we have “A Series of Engravings illustrating those important events recorded in the Sacred Scriptures,” “which have been selected from Raphael, &c., with critical notices,” 1833; and six plates to “Vates, or the Philosophy of Madness,” 1840.

Having disposed of our materials about the professional and family lineage of the Landseers, it will be desirable, before entering upon the chief subject of this text, to draw together all it is needful to state of his very remarkable parent, the engraver and engravers’ champion. We shall do so without regard to the chronological parallelism of their lives; a course of treatment which admits simplicity of arrangement. The births of three able sons are important facts in the history of any man who might be so honoured in parentage. Thomas, the eldest son, was born, we believe, in 1796; Charles, the second son, Aug. 2, 1799; Sir Edwin Henry, in 1802; March 7th was the date given on his coffin-plate, but there are doubts about this matter, even among the Landseer family. Including the daughters, the names of this family ran thus in the order of their births:--Jane, who married Mr. Charles Christmas, and died at the birth of her first child; Thomas, Charles, Anna Maria, Edwin, Jessica, i.e. the present Miss Landseer, and Emma, now Mrs. Mackenzie. The last two survive.

According to the original constitution of the Academy, engravers had no place in it. Thus they were denied the privilege of considering themselves artists at all. This absurdity was not much reduced when, in the third year of its existence, the body decided on admitting six “Associate Engravers” as a distinct and inferior class.[8]

As we have thus noted, the position of engravers in the honour-bestowing body of their profession had been anomalous, and beneath the pretences, as well as the merits and reputations, of many distinguished men, who, while not unwilling to join the academical association, declined to do so on conditions which at once marked their alleged inferiority to the professors of other branches of art, and placed them in a lower grade than the painters, sculptors, and architects with whom, nevertheless, they claimed to be equal. They complained especially, that, in addition to the above-given sources of discontent, a law of the Academy restricted them from more than one of the privileges and advantages of the exhibitions:--1st, of that law which declared that “each Associate-Engraver shall have the _liberty_ [an unfortunate form of expression] of exhibiting two prints, either compositions of his own, or engravings from other masters.” Thus, while other members were entitled to contribute eight pictures, sculptures, or what not, without limitation as to the size of each example, the engravers might exhibit not more than two, which, by the very conditions under which they were produced, must be small. 2ndly, the engravers objected to the concluding section of the same law, which ran thus: “and these shall be the only prints admitted to the Royal Exhibition.” By these measures the engravers were affected, and their art depreciated. This state of things has been mended now, and engravers are admitted to the full academical honours. The history of the earliest phases of the contest, and a statement of the case are in Mr. John Pye’s “Patronage of British Art,” where the exertions of John Landseer and others are described. It is strange that although this measure of justice has been vouchsafed, the lots of honour fell to two of the staunchest “outsiders” who refused to become candidates for the Associateship until the standing of their profession was recognized: while John Landseer remained an Associate for nearly fifty years, and died without further distinction in 1852, but five years before the election of Mr. Cousins. Mr. Doo’s election occurred the next year after that of Mr. Cousins. The latter became an Associate thirty years later than John Landseer; the former was an Associate but one year, being elected A.R.A. in 1856, and R.A. in 1857. Mr. Cousins resigned his R.A.ship, and became a Retired Royal Academician in 1879. The first to accept honour was John Landseer.

It was with the intention of putting the true position of the engraver’s art and its professors before the world, and of doing so in the most effectual fashion, that John Landseer, in 1806, delivered lectures on engraving to large audiences at the Royal Institution, and thus laid out those broad and high views of art for which he has been justly honoured. He defined engraving as a species of sculpture performed by incision, and, by defending that view with spirit and skill, became the champion of his profession. Mr. H. Crabb Robinson described John Landseer’s lecturing on “The Philosophy of Art,” at a later occasion, December 5, 1813, at the Surrey Institution. “He is animated in his style,” said Mr. Robinson, “but his animation is produced by indulgence in sarcasms and in emphatic diction. He pronounces his words in _italics_, and by colouring strongly he produces an effect easily.”[9] In the year in which the lectures on engraving were delivered, John Landseer was elected A.-E.R.A., under protest, as it were, from himself, that he received the distinction with a view to more effective action in favour of his fellow-sufferers. In furtherance of this object he, with very little effect, presented a memorial to the Academicians, and, as he said, experienced from Sir Martin Archer Shee and others “a very great deal of illiberality, and was finally repulsed in a most ungracious way.”[10] After this, says the author of a biography of John Landseer,[11] the disappointment preyed upon his mind so deeply that he turned his attention from the practice of his profession to the study of archæology. This statement requires a considerable quantity of salt. No doubt this failure of so many hopes and efforts embittered his memory for a long time. It is said, though, as Mr. Pye told us, it would be difficult to verify the assertion, that an Associate-Engravership in the total number of six, which became vacant on the death of John Brown, in 1801, remained vacant because no outsider offered himself until Landseer’s election in 1806. There were only five such members of the Academy during the interval in question, and Val. Green, Collyer, James Heath, Anker Smith, and James Fittler were tenants of the five posts. The intensity of professional feeling on the subject may be surmised from this fact.

There is this much to be said about John Landseer’s alleged neglect of his own profession for the studies of an archæologist: he published “Observations on the Engraved Gems brought from Babylon to England by Abraham Lockett, Esq., considered with reference to Scripture History;” but this was not done until 1817, or ten years after the memorializing of the Royal Academy. The object of this work was to show that Babylonian cylinders, the “gems” in question, were not used as talismans or amulets, but as signets of monarchs or princes--a conclusion which is not far from the now accepted truth. He next issued “Sabæan Researches,” 1823, a work founded on remains brought from “Babylon,” by the above-named traveller, comprising letters on antiquities, and lectures delivered at the Royal Institution. These works have been superseded by later ones, and more scientific studies than were to be expected from an author who had been bred to another profession. He likewise published a discursive “Description of Fifty of the Earliest Pictures in the National Gallery,” 1834. He produced twenty plates by way of contribution to the “Antiquities of Dacca” (begun in 1816), a work which was never completed; this imperfectness likewise marked that book on the National Gallery which bears “End of Vol. I.” by way of “Finis,” to a tome which has no successor. He issued “The Review of Publications of Art,” 1808, a periodical of trenchant quality, but brief career; and he promoted a second periodical styled “The Probe,” 1837, which seemed--for it ran to not more than half-a-dozen numbers--designed to oppose the then recently-established “Art-Union” journal. The chief task of his later years was engraving his son Edwin’s famous picture of “The Dogs of St. Bernard,” on which he wrote a small explanatory pamphlet styled “Some Account of the Dogs and the Pass of St. Bernard.” In 1826 he was appointed one of the “Engravers to his Majesty.” Later, he exhibited at the Royal Academy some studies in water-colours from so-called Druidical Temples. He died on the 29th of February, 1852, aged eighty-three. It is a curious fact that on his death, and the vacancy caused in the Academy by that event, Leslie proposed that the disabilities of engravers should be removed.

The chief work of John Landseer was the bringing-up of his sons; in this he was thoroughly successful, and worthy of more

[Illustration: _The Highland Shepherd’s Dog._]

honour than is given to one who struggled valiantly towards an unselfish end. This process of education must have been common to all the objects of attention and affection. As to the eldest son, but for his admirable skill with the burin, feeling for animal character, and pathetic treatment of his brother’s pictures, we should have known comparatively little about Sir Edwin or his works. The thousands who go to exhibitions, public galleries, and private collections, are few compared with those who day by day study the learned prints for which we are indebted to the skilful hand of Mr. Thomas Landseer. This engraver, trained as a draughtsman and anatomist under the advice of Haydon, and to work on copper under his father, generally exercised his craft in mezzotint, combining with this mode a considerable proportion of etching, because that process is better adapted to the subjects he affected than the more severe mode of line-engraving. He executed, nevertheless, plates in the “line manner.” To him was attributed a cartoon named “Samson forgives Delilah,” No. 34, in the exhibition of such works at Westminster Hall, in 1843. His first work in copper was a “Study of the Head of a Sibyl,” after Haydon, 1816. He engraved a considerable series of early designs by his brother Edwin in “The Sporting Magazine,” 1823-6, which, including original works of his own in the same periodical, were afterwards collected in a folio volume, and published separately as “Annals of Sporting.” “The Sportsman’s Annual,” 1836, owed much to the brothers Edwin and Thomas; “Twenty Engravings of Lions, Panthers, &c.,” 4º., 1823, was likewise so composed, and comprises many excellent specimens of the united arts of the authors. “Stories about Dogs,” 16º., 1864, and “Stories illustrative of Instinct of Animals,” 16º., 1864, are amusing books for juvenile students, and happily illustrated in their way. Probably his most important work, not a production of his brother’s, is the fine mezzotint of Mdlle. Rosa Bonheur’s “Horse Fair.” This, with the series of etchings of monkeys styled “Monkeyana, or Men in Miniature,” which he designed, drew, and etched throughout, secured the reputation of Thomas Landseer, both as an original humourist and a translator of the works of others. He was elected an “Associate-Engraver of the New Class” in the Royal Academy in 1867, after he had been before the public during more than fifty years. In 1873 he became an “Associate-Engraver.” In 1876 he was merged with the “A.R.A’s.,” and this distinction was abolished. This artist died on the 20th of January, 1880. He published “Characteristic Sketches of Animals,” “Drawn from the life and engraved by T. L.,” 1832, Ten Etchings, illustrative of “The Devil’s Walk,” 1831, “Flowers of Anecdote,” with etchings, 1829, and in 1871, “Life and Letters of William Bewick,” a most readable and excellent book, that is full of anecdotes and experiences. Most of the original sketches in pencil for “Monkeyana” are in the British Museum.

As the life of Mr. Charles Landseer does not come within the scope of our purpose in this text, it will be needless to say more about his career than that he became an exhibitor at the Royal Academy in 1828. Before this he travelled in the suite of Lord Stuart de Rothesay in Portugal and to Rio de Janeiro, where he made a large number of studies and sketches, which have been described with admiration. He was elected A.R.A. in 1837; R.A. in 1845; Keeper in 1851. This office Mr. C. Landseer, having held it for an unusually long period, resigned in 1871; he died July 22, 1879, leaving an ample fortune, which somewhat unexpectedly, it is said, accrued to him as the residuary legatee of his brother Sir Edwin. Mr. C. Landseer was a large donor to the artists’ benevolent societies; 10,000_l._ fell to the Royal Academy for the “Landseer Scholarships,” as appointed and awarded by the President and Council. Miss Landseer (Mrs. C. Christmas) exhibited occasionally at the Royal Academy and British Institution. The name of H. and Henry Landseer frequently appears in the like manner; this gentleman was a brother of John Landseer, a frequent contributor to the Exhibitions, especially to that of the Society of British Artists. Edwin Henry Landseer bore the second name, in honour of his uncle. At one period it was, at least occasionally, his practice to use all three of these names. He made a sketch of Count D’Orsay’s horse, and signed it “E. H. L.,” and, in reply to a question why he did this, said that his second name was Henry, but, as his father had said one name was enough, he had given up using it; (see the Catalogue of the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, 1874, p. 30.) Miss Jessie Landseer is a painter of considerable ability, and an engraver, who etched some of her brother Edwin’s works. She is now, 1880, the sole bearer of the name of Landseer in the family. Mrs. Mackenzie, her sister, to whom I am much indebted for materials used in this text, practised art with characteristic success. At the British Institution Exhibitions of 1821, 1822, and 1823, Miss Landseer, Mr. E. Landseer, and Mr. H. Landseer appeared together.




A.D. 1802 TO A.D. 1817.


Edwin Henry Landseer was, as stated above, born in 1802--the year before another animal painter of modern note, Mr. T. S. Cooper--and that event happened at his father’s house, No. 83,[12] Queen Anne Street East (not Turner’s Queen Anne Street), and consequently at his death he was in his seventy-second year. For the greater part of this long period he retained far more health and activity than are commonly vouchsafed to those who pass the allotted term of human life. How that life was spent, what are the pictures he produced, and under what circumstances they were executed, I have now, to the best of my means, to inquire and detail. The best living authority avers that our subject was by no means diligent at school, in fact, he was “always running away from his teachers, and always drawing.” His artistic education was begun by his father at a very early age, but not before natural ability had made itself evident in sketching and drawing. Training of the best sort was soon afforded by the judicious care of John Landseer, who directed his son’s practice, after the mode of the greatest masters, to Nature, so that “as soon as he could hold a pencil with some steadiness,” says Mr. R. N. Wornum, the biographer of Landseer in the “English Cyclopædia,” the boy was sent or accompanied into the fields to draw from sheep, goats, and donkeys; and especially did he find space for this mode of study on Hampstead Heath, where the creatures grazed or stood as nearly in a state of nature as civilization permits to any of their kind in England; and certainly in that condition of their existence which is familiar to us. The following account, obligingly furnished to me by the late Miss Meteyard, at once confirms and illustrates this early history:--

“In 1849--1850 the Howitts resided in Avenue Road, St. John’s Wood, and the father of Edwin Landseer no great way off. William Howitt and Mr. John Landseer being well acquainted, and often meeting in their walks, would go and return together; sometimes one way, sometimes another, but generally in the direction of Hampstead. One evening, in passing along the Finchley Road towards Child’s Hill, Mr. Landseer stayed by a stile of ancient look, and said to his friend, ‘These two fields were Edwin’s first studio. Many a time have I lifted him over this very stile. I then lived in Foley Street, and nearly all the way between Marylebone and Hampstead was open fields. It was a favourite walk with my boys; and one day when I had accompanied them, Edwin stopped by this stile to admire some sheep and cows which were quietly grazing. At his request I lifted him over, and finding a scrap of paper and a pencil in my pocket I made him sketch a cow. He was very young indeed then--not more than six or seven years old. After this we came on several occasions, and as he grew older this was one of his favourite spots for sketching. He would start off alone, or with John (Thomas?) or Charles, and remain till I fetched him in the afternoon. I would then criticize his work, and make him correct defects before we left the spot. Sometimes he would sketch in one field, sometimes in the other; but generally in the one beyond the old oak we see there, as it was more pleasant and sunny.’

“Those acquainted with Hampstead and its environs will know these two fields at once. They lie nearly opposite what is now the Finchley Road Station of the North London Railway, and open out into West End Lane, a little below Frognal and the parish church. The old oak is still standing, though in withered decrepitude.[13] Indeed, till almost recent years, this was a region of oak-trees, and the whole neighbourhood was picturesque in the extreme. But much of this beauty is now effaced.

“Belonging to Sir John Maryon Wilson, Lord of the Manor of Hampstead, and abutting the corner of West End Lane, these fields will, at no late date, be covered with ‘villas’ and other buildings. But the fact that the site was Edwin Landseer’s _first studio_ may be preserved by in some manner naming it after the illustrious painter.

“This interesting fact was told me by Mr. Howitt whilst walking through these fields about twenty years ago.


The representation of animals in that mode of life in which the creatures existed, is that practice which, being best understood by the common world, would best sustain the objects of an artist who had to do with so many beasts which were but semi-barbarous, and not in a state of natural fierceness and wildness. The reader who wishes to see what was the merit of studies thus pursued, is referred to the South Kensington Museum, British Art Collection, where a series of nine drawings, executed at a very early period of his life by Edwin Landseer, and duly marked with the dates of their production, will not alone evoke admiration for the nature-given ability of the draughtsman, but testify, that with such ability to back the practice his father devised, the son was fortunate in receiving that father’s counsel. Further, the observer will note how zealously the boy-pupil bent his mind to the task with all the pleasantness which attends the exercise of natural powers.

[Illustration: _The Beggar._]

This is enforced by Miss Meteyard’s communication. Be it remembered that even such natural ability as that of Landseer was not trained without strenuous and long-continued labours.[14] The same course was pursued by him in painting, and he never, during this early stage, drew without nature; not, probably, carrying the principle of study in this fashion to the virtuous excess of William Henry Hunt, his contemporary, of whom it is said that he would not draw a pin without a model; a saying which implies the devotion of the man to truth, rather than that he refused to avail himself of his own experience. That the one would not paint a pin without a model is as true as that the other painted dogs best because he relied on nature from the first, and succeeded most in painting them while he relied most on nature. The drawings and sketches which are referred to were reserved by John Landseer from a much larger number of his son’s productions, and by means of notes in that father’s hand--notes written in affectionate pride, indicating that some of them were made when the boy was but five years old--declare the progress and precocity of their subject; so that we see how in the fifth year of his age Landseer drew well, and thoroughly studied animal character and humour.[15]

Landseer’s precocity exceeded that of Lucas van Leyden, one of the great artists whose early skill has made them wonderful, and added interest to their after-glory. Lucas van Leyden etched designs of his own when he was but nine years of age. When he was fourteen appeared his famous print of Mahomet killing Sergius the Monk. When Van Leyden was twelve he painted “St. Hubert,” thereby beating Edwin Landseer in pictorial progress, if not in precocity of draughtsmanship. To have been so nearly neck-and-neck in early development with such a magnificent genius as that of Lucas van Leyden, and to have maintained that remarkable position through a long life, was a singular fortune. Van Leyden, however, died at thirty-nine years of age. Sir Edwin’s years attained to nearly double that period.

At the sale of Mr. M. W. Simpson’s pictures, in 1848 (Mr. Simpson was an early friend and patron of Landseer’s), a considerable number of the artist’s youthful productions were disposed of, many of which were, we believe, painted at about this period of his career. Of those probably executed a little later, but which for convenience sake we may as well refer to here, if it were but to declare how these pictures have risen in value, the following were examples:--“A Scotch Terrier with a Rat in his mouth,” sold for, although not more than four inches by five inches, sixty-eight guineas, and would now, twenty-five years later, produce treble that sum. This work has been engraved, we believe, by Mr. T. Landseer. “Waiting for Orders,” a full length portrait of Mr. Simpson’s coachman, sold for thirty-two guineas. This was not that portrait of a deer-hound which is now called “Waiting,” and was engraved by J. C. Webb. “The Paddock,” an old chestnut horse, and a white Scotch terrier near it, with a distant view of Windsor Castle, sold for one hundred guineas. If this could happen twenty-five years ago, with regard to unexhibited pictures of comparatively small account, what could be expected now, although the artist was most prolific, and not, like Mulready, accustomed to confine his labours to a few canvases or panels? For this question of the comparative prices of old and later pictures by Landseer we shall enable the reader to form an answer for himself ere our task is complete.

Among the minor works of the painter, none have so much interest as examples of the etchings which were produced when he was little more than an infant. The inherent ability of the man’s mind is more distinctly and decidedly marked in these comparatively unimportant works than in those which received the benefit of years of study and of craft, and were produced when his natural powers had been consummated by practice upon a score of pictures, being the fruits of an intelligence developed to the utmost in that way which these very etchings, more than any other means, declare to be proper, apt and natural to it. Edwin Landseer continued the practice of etching, and made the results of these labours proportionately as valuable and meritorious as his pictures. It is not, however, to the products of his perfected skill that we now address our remarks, so much as to the works of his infancy, boyhood, and youth. As some of these juvenile productions are very rare, and consequently little studied, although much admired in artistic circles, our readers will not be sorry to have an account of a collection of them, including works duly annotated with the age, of the artist at the time they were executed.[16]

The first etching on our list is said to be also that which was produced before all others by “Master E. Landseer,” and to have been wrought five years ere he appeared in the Royal Academy display as an “Honorary Exhibitor;” doubtless the youngest of his class before or since that date. It was done in his eighth year, and one plate comprises several subjects, thus:--1. The Head of an Ass; which, by the way, is not thoroughly understood, if one may so write of the production of so capable an artist; for the head is not well articulated with the neck, or complete in drawing as to placing the eyes on a level with each other. Yet it is full of truth in the rendering of texture and expression, as the beast bites sideways at the large-leaved herbage; his ears are standing well above his head, and one eye is turned towards us in a very asinine fashion, steadfastly watching, while the other is directed downwards as the animal’s wrenching nibble goes on. 2. Is the Head of a Shorthorned Sheep, with the exact expression of nature in its ever mobile and quivering lips; the eye is that of the timid creature, yet seems to meditate. The foreshortening of the horns is astonishing as the workmanship of a child-draughtsman. 3. Is the Head of a Sheep in the act of browsing; this calls for no remark, except that of general admiration for its excellent drawing. 4. Is the Head, on a larger scale than the others, of a long-tusked, deep-snouted Boar, while dozing in the sun. Besides these, and probably of even earlier origin, is a not very well-drawn Head of a Sheep in full-face; here the eyes are a little out of drawing. On this account, although the defect may be due to the greater difficulty of the subject when so placed, we are inclined to believe this etching to be more remote in execution than the above-described examples, which are, as the productions of a boy of eight years of age, so far wonderful that they are really better drawn and more truly expressive than the work of most adult artists. On the same plate with the sheep’s head in front view is (1) a Donkey, at full length, so to say, _i.e._, standing on all fours, and biting at his leg--a capital study, full of action and spirit; (2) a Donkey and her Foal.

On another plate are the heads of a lion and tiger (see the last note), in which the differing characters of the beasts are given with marvellous craft, that would honour a much older artist than the producer. The drawing of the tiger’s whiskers--always difficult things to manage--is admirable in its rendering of foreshortened curves. Then comes a drawing of a young bull, wrought by Edwin Landseer at nine years of age, and etched by his by no means very distant senior brother Thomas; this brute’s walk, the peculiar shouldering, lounging way of his kind, rolling from shoulder to shoulder, is here in perfection; the bull whisks his tail lightly from side to side.

Next is another specimen, but on a larger scale than those which are above described. It exhibits an extraordinarily finely drawn bull, the foreshortening and handling of whose form is perfect; his expression is that of a rigid conventionalist--for bulls are not unlike men in these matters of temperament--a thoroughly old-fashioned John Bull. Behind this is a foreshortened view of a horse reclining, and, in the distance of the field, which supplies a landscape-background to the composition, is a goat. The work of the young artist’s tenth year shows great progress to have been made, for he wrought the whole design, and entirely etched the next plate, which represents two groups of cattle placed one above the other on the paper, which is disposed, as artists say, upright-fashion, and of about the size and proportion of a large octavo book. In the lower section is the representation of a ponderous beast, couched at ease, yet with all his strength drawn together by the attitude of resting with his limbs beneath his bulky body; he has downward-pointing horns. He is a surly “_oldish_” bull, who breathes the breath of content in summer, but with possibilities of fury in his irritable moodiness; not a stupid bull, although terrible when exasperated; he is evidently apt to lose his temper on slight occasions. Behind this surly monster stands an intensely stupid brute, one who is evidently given up to all sorts of self-indulgences, and who in every possible fashion spoils himself; his countenance is absolutely besotted; he has a hog-like air, and his very tail hangs heavily straight down from his back; with these is grouped a maternal cow, who is large, if not like Byron’s “Dudu,” “languishing and lazy.”

Executed in the same year of the draughtsman’s life we have another group, drawn on the same plate with the above-named studies of animals. This is a bovine family. Maternity itself appears in the shape of a stumpy-footed cow; fatherhood, in the portly figure of a bull whose knit brows and self-satisfied look about his chaps, his broad bowed neck and vast chest, are honoured by imitation in the little bull-calf which reclines before its parents, ruminating, if not meditating, and “the picture of his father.” Produced at about the same period as the last is an admirable etching of a cow and bull-calf. The former, by the leanness of her haunches and flanks, shows the stress of the debt of milk she is paying to the latter, or to the more exacting pail: on her back a ridge of spines is distinct; large aspiring promontories of bone crop up in the rearward regions of the milky mother, not unlike, in their ruggedness and the slopes which form their sides, the steep forms of granite mountains as they are thrust through sedimentary deposits of a later date. At her feet lies the blunt-nosed bull-calf of her heart.

Next, in the same collection, and said to be of still earlier origin, comes a much larger production, etched by Mr. Thomas Landseer from a drawing by his brother, our subject. This noble plate represents an Alpine mastiff of the great St. Bernard breed, which had been in the second decade of this century imported to this country by a gentleman of Liverpool.[17]

[Illustration: _The Common in Winter._]

An inscription at the foot of the plate informs us that, at a year old, this magnificent creature was six feet four inches long; and, at the middle of his back, stood two feet seven inches in height. The note in question adds that the animals of this breed are employed by the fraternity of Mont St. Bernard, not only in the rescue of travellers from snowdrifts, in which the latter may have been engulfed, but as beasts of burthen, and that they are capable of carrying a hundredweight of provisions from the town on which the monks rely, to the hospice, a distance of eighteen miles. The drawing was done by Sir Edwin Landseer when he was about thirteen years of age, that is, in the year 1815.

It is really one of the finest drawings of a dog that has ever been produced; we do not think that even the artist at any time surpassed its noble workmanship. In its form are reproduced all the characteristics of such a beast. The head, though expansive and domical in its shape, is small in proportion to that of a Newfoundland dog; the brow is broad and round; the eyes, according to the standard commonly assumed for large dogs, are far from being large, and are very steadfast in their look, without fierceness; the ears are pendulous, placed near to the head, and fleshy in substance. This St. Bernard dog has a great hanging jowl and finely formed nose; which last, as is commonly the case with creatures whose sense of smell is delicate, tapers slightly to the nostrils. The chest is broad and square, but by no means heavy; the forelegs are brawny, yet elegant, with broad and firmly placed feet. The body is comparatively long and rather slender in its contours, the belly is hollow, and the hind legs nervously lean and remarkably muscular. Withal, this beast has a grave and dignified walk which is pleasant to see.

Next, and returning to early examples in the same collection, we have an etching of some sheep, “Southdowns,” which is comparatively unsuccessful. After this comes the “Head of a Ram,” of about half life-size, with doubly voluted horns, pointing downwards. To an artist’s eyes, or those of one who is capable of truly appreciating this superb drawing, the real proof of the draughtsman’s power is to be seen in the foreshortening of the twisted and wreathed horns; the execution of these parts is marvellous for precision and “clearness” of line, for the elaborate involuting of the protuberances, and the manner in which perspective of very delicate and intricate nature has been expressed by the deft craftsmanship.

A Group of Lions in a hollow on a mountain side supplied the subject of the next example in our series of illustrations. Etched by Thomas Landseer is a copy of a retriever lying down, and behind him another dog, whose features recall “Brutus,” the artist’s very old favourite,[18] and the subject of several works by him, to one of which we elsewhere more particularly allude. Next are heads of a pointer and a spaniel, both of great beauty as to the execution--an extraordinarily brilliant production of the engraver. Here we shall place the fore-part of a tiger, crouching and seeking prey. Finally, two admirable prints, the one representing a gaunt French hog, standing munching before its sty, and having an elaborate landscape background. A plate of this was published with a slight modification, and styled “A French Hog, the property of Mr. Bacon, of the Black Boy Inn, near Chelmsford.” By way of fellow appeared “An English Hog.” The French Hog is a ludicrous beast, antithetical to its companion subject, and one of the most uncouth, long-legged, swift-looking, sharp-nosed, flat-sided, hollow-bellied of animals, covered with bristles that recall a porcupine’s quills, which are gathered in lines on his flanks, and project from his limbs like ragged old thatch on a ruined cottage roof. The English Boar looks a mere round barrel of lard mounted on two pairs of wonderfully short legs, with a head stuck on one of its ends, and a tail attached to the upper part of the other.[19]

Almost every place where animals might be seen to advantage was visited by Edwin Landseer during this period, the Tower among them. At this time was observed the incident which furnished a capital subject of “a lion’s and a dog’s friendship,” which is reproduced, with three others, in Thomas Landseer’s book, “Twenty Engravings of Lions, Panthers, &c.” The story is briefly this: a lioness, an orphan of course, had been captured in very early cub-hood and brought on board ship, and was suckled by a bitch, for whom, although she soon surpassed her nurse in size and strength, she ever retained the utmost affection, and some respect. The attached couple being shown in Exeter Change menagerie, attracted much admiration, and were the source of delight to thousands.

The other three works by Edwin Landseer in this collection are “A Combat between a Lion, Tiger, and a Panther, contending for a dead Fawn,” “A Tiger tearing the carcase of an Indian Bullock,” and “The Frontispiece.” Spilsbury, an artist of considerable ability, contributed modifications of designs by Rubens, Rembrandt, Stubbs, and others; there is likewise one by T. Landseer, representing “A Tigress defending her Cubs from a Snake.”

Ere this period of his studies was past, “Master Edwin Landseer” justified so much public interest that his doings were chronicled by his father; and in Elmes’s well-known “Annals of Art” he was referred to as a promising student. Some of his early studies appeared in “The Sporting Magazine,” whence they were, as stated above, collected and republished. Incessantly he drew and painted from nature, without reference to copies; in this was the source of his knowledge of life, truth in design, and mastery of the forms of animals, and of their varied coverings.

The first appearance of the painter, then only thirteen years of age, occurred in 1815, and is thus recorded in the Catalogue of the Royal Academy Exhibition of that year: “_Master E. Landseer, H.; 33, Foley Street_.”[20] The subjects of the pictures contributed to the annual gatherings of works of art indicate very clearly what had been the youthful painter’s studies. As is not commonly the wont of young artists, “Master Edwin Landseer” did not aspire to a subject. Nothing heroic, pathetic, or dramatic came from his easel at that date, but simply two portraits of animals. They are thus described:--“No. 443. Portrait of a Mule, the property of W. H. Simpson, Esq., of Beleigh Grange, Essex;” and, “No. 584. Portraits of a Pointer Bitch and Puppy.” The latter was painted for the owner of the mule, and both pictures appeared among those early works of Sir Edwin’s which were, as before stated, sold in 1848, after the death of Mr. Simpson. James Ward, being essentially a cattle painter, these examples are important, because they are the first seriously studied pictures by the first English painter who, since Hogarth, had painted a dog with due regard to individuality and character, to say nothing of pathos and dramatic expressiveness, passion, energy, and humour. Hogarth had painted several dogs with admirable skill, _e. g._, the telling portrait of “Trump” in his own likeness, now in the National Gallery, and there are dogs in “A Rake’s Progress.” John Wooton was the fashionable dog painter of Hogarth’s day, who did many canine portraits, notably that of Horace Walpole’s “Patapan,” as recorded in his master’s letter to Mann, Ap. 25, 1743. Stubbs painted several capital dogs, as accessories to his horses. Both Gainsborough and Romney used dogs in like situations. Nevertheless, it is true that between Snyder’s and Landseer’s days the “friend of man,” as an independent subject of study, was neglected by artists.

Another artist of great note was beginning to make a mark which is likely to grow deeper as the world grows older, for in the man were many fine powers of art and criticism. He was closely associated with our subject. This was Leslie, who arrived in England in 1811, and was at this time, 1815, residing next door to Flaxman, _i.e._, at No. 8, Buckingham Place, or Street, Fitzroy Square. In 1816 Leslie, eight years Landseer’s senior, made a bold attempt with a congenial theme from English poetical history, a class of subject which he affected warmly, being “The Death of Rutland,” from “The Third Part of Henry VI.,” Act i. Scene 3, where Clifford murders the youth. Edwin Landseer sat for the young victim, kneeling, with a rope round his wrists, being then “a curly-headed youngster, dividing his time between Polito’s wild beasts at Exeter Change and the Royal Academy Schools.”[21] The picture, after appearing at the Academy in 1816 (No. 518), was sent to America, and purchased by the Academy of Philadelphia, where it probably still is. It contains a very early portrait of our painter. But this was not the first likeness of Landseer exhibited; for “Master J. Hayter,” afterwards a portrait-painter of considerable note and some cleverness, although then but a youngster, painted “Master E. Landseer” as “The Cricketer,” and sent the work to the Royal Academy in 1815 (No. 450). “Master J. Hayter” died, an old man, not many years ago.[22]

That an artist so eminent as Landseer should have first presented himself to the public, or by his father have been so presented, in the ranks of the honorary exhibitors, is curious. The suffix “H.” to the name, and his being included with the class in question, leaves no doubt on the subject. It is understood that pictures by exhibitors of this class are not for sale, and the privilege of thus showing works is, or was, considered a compliment to persons of distinction. Thus we find among the honorary exhibitors of 1815, Sir George Beaumont; the

[Illustration: _The Eagle and Dead Stag._]

Rev. W. Holwell Carr, a benefactor to the National Gallery; J. Britton, the antiquary; and the Hon. Mary J. Eden. That a picture by a boy of twelve should be so exhibited is among the curiosities of Academy displays. Though in itself more meritorious, it is not less remarkable, than the fact that George Morland, in 1778, sent to the Academy a picture drawn with a poker, or that similar gatherings formerly comprised flower-pieces in human hair, and the like “works of art.”

The year 1816 witnessed the second appearance of our painter, and with a picture the title of which affirms his previous practice. This happened at “the Great Room in Spring Gardens,” then, and long before, a frequent place of exhibition, not unlike the present Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, that could be hired for all sorts of shows, and afforded many curious illustrations of the uses to which such a gallery could be put. In the year in question this “Great Room” was in the occupancy of the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours--that is, the same association which now flourishes as the Society of Painters in Water Colours, its original title, which had for a time given way to the first-named designation, in consequence of a difficulty about dividing profits among the members, a considerable number of whom seceded, leaving those who remained unable to cover the walls with pictures. In this strait the remaining members invited a certain number of oil painters to contribute to the exhibition, and called the persons who consented to do so Associate-Exhibitors. The seceders comprised J. J. Chalon, De Wint, Gilpin, Hills, Reinagle, and Pugin the elder. David Cox had joined the Society shortly before, and “came to the rescue with a host of pictures;” but these did not suffice, and the expedient of inviting Associate-Exhibitors was employed to increase the popularity of the exhibitions.

It is noteworthy that among these “outsiders” who were taken in as stop-gaps was William Henry Hunt, one of the most artistic of English painters; he made his _début_ to the Society, of which he became one of the most distinguished members, in 1814, with two landscapes in oil. Hunt, like Landseer, had previously exhibited in the Royal Academy; he did so in 1807, when Sir Edwin was five years of age. The Society continued to use, until 1824, its style of the times of difficulty, and thereafter reverted to its former title and limits. It is worthy of note that this interval of disturbance had much to do with the bringing out of painters so diverse in their modes of thought as Hunt and Landseer. Haydon also found a field for the exhibition of his power in the gallery of the divided Society. In 1814 the last-named artist sent there “The Judgment of Solomon,” a picture which is admitted to be the best he painted, and to it the attention of Landseer’s biographer is directed, as having probably been purchased, as it was certainly long retained, by his pupil in memory of Haydon. The work passed from Sir Edwin’s possession to that of Lord Ashburton.

The connection between the Landseers and Haydon is close. Haydon was, at least in some degree, Edwin Landseer’s third teacher, if we put Nature before his father. In his peculiar way, which has to be taken into account ere we can appreciate the true sense of the following passage, Haydon describes the first entry of John Landseer’s sons to his charge:--

“In 1815, Mr. Landseer, the engraver, had brought his boys to me and said, ‘When do you let your beard grow, and take pupils?’ I said, ‘If my instructions are useful and valuable, now,’ ‘Will you let my boys come?’ I said, ‘Certainly.’ Charles and Thomas, it was immediately arranged, should come every Monday, when I was to give them work for the week. Edwin took my dissections of the lion, and I advised him to dissect animals--the only mode of acquiring [a knowledge of] their construction--as I had dissected men, and as I should make his brother do. This very incident generated in me a desire to form a school; and as the Landseers made rapid progress, I resolved to communicate my system to other young men, and endeavour to establish a better and more regular system of instruction than even the Academy afforded.” It would appear from this account that Edwin Landseer was not a pupil of Haydon’s in the sense of that term, which is applicable to his brothers’ studies, This notion seems to be supported, if not confirmed, by what is recorded hereafter.[23] It will not be forgotten that long before this date all the Landseers had made very considerable progress under their father, and so far as regards Edwin this is affirmed by Haydon.[23]

The pupils who followed the Landseers to Haydon’s studio were, Bewick, son of an upholsterer of Darlington, who died in 1866, without making any deep sign in art, and is the subject of Mr. T. Landseer’s biography, above mentioned; Harvey, the author of so many thousand designs for woodcuts, familiar to all headers of the “Penny Magazine,” and the by no means happy illustrator of the “Arabian Nights;” Edwin Chatfield, who died young; and George Lance, the popular fruit-painter. Of Thomas Christmas, another of Haydon’s pupils, we speak elsewhere. Before the Landseers studied under Haydon’s directions, Charles Lock Eastlake, the late President of the Royal Academy, had received invaluable counsel from a man whose broken career and hapless fortunes--which were, doubtless, in no small degree, of his own producing--are among the sad facts in the history of English painting. Haydon goes on: “All these young men looked up to me as their instructor and their friend. I took them under my care, taught them everything I knew, explained the principles of Raphael’s works in my collection of his prints, and did the same thing over again which I had done to Eastlake, without one shilling of payment from them, any more than from him. They improved rapidly. The gratitude of themselves and of their friends knew no bounds.” So far, so good; what follows of the writer’s career concerns us not now. Haydon was painting “Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem,” and occupied a position which is rather difficult for men of another day fairly to appreciate. He had finished, with extraordinary _éclat_, “The Judgment of Solomon,” and, on account of the success this obtained, fancied himself at the top of the tree. He had certainly begun well for himself, and his earnest advocacy of the Elgin Marbles was honourable to him. To this advocacy he attributed an importance that was in excess of the fact, although it was of great service. He was a valuable champion in art by means of these marbles, and the studies which he made his pupils produce from them, to say nothing of the effect of his introducing to other countries casts of the statues, and promoting the bringing to London several of the Cartoons of Raphael, which his pupils Charles and Thomas Landseer drew manfully at the British Institution. Edwin Landseer made studies from the same works.

The catalogues of pictures exhibited in various galleries show that Edwin Landseer was at this period domiciled with his father and brothers, and Mr. Henry Landseer, his uncle, at 33, Foley Street or Foley Place. A few doors off, at No. 30, lived Thomas Campbell, a fellow-lecturer with John Landseer at the Royal Institution, where he delivered “Discourses on English Poetry.” This house was of much superior character to that which its present appearance indicates; the whole of the Foley Street region has “gone down” in the world within the writer’s memory of forty years’ duration.[24]

Haydon’s studio, at 41, Great Marlborough Street, was near for a youth’s walk; and that artist, with ill-concealed difficulties gathering around him, struggled yet against them without a sign of failure. Burlington House, where the Elgin marbles were placed while critical combats were waged about them ere they found a home in the British Museum, was close at hand, and the noblest academy for study. Independently of Haydon’s declaration, there can be no doubt that the Landseers derived immense benefit from the study of those models, even if they have shown nothing that can be directly referred to them. It is in the formation of style that one would expect benefit from these types, rather than in mere copying their characteristics. We fancy that in Landseer’s dogs, such as “A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society,” “Suspense,” and wherever breadth and grandeur of elements are involved, are results of impressions thus made. We cannot conceive a student who is familiar with these examples losing the ideas he had obtained from them. Not only did these works afford lessons which occurred fortunately with studies from Nature, but the advice of Haydon, that his pupils should dissect, was the sure guide to success. Having received such instructions from John Landseer as fixed Nature in his mind as the ever-present and indisputable director; and from Haydon the injunction to study the marbles as models of style, together with counsel and aid in dissecting human and leonine subjects, Edwin Landseer’s powers were in the fairest way of development. Ability and energy must have done the rest; they were all-sufficient to bring that reputation which is so widely spread.

To a mere painter of portraits of animals, no such fame, no such abundance of thanks as are due to Landseer would have accrued. A picture of Mr. So-and-So’s favourite mastiff, nay, a mere likeness of a favourite lap-dog, would, except to a few of the enthusiastic, have been nought to mankind; worse than nought for the reputation of the painter who failed to impart pathos and character to his productions, and so make, in one of them, the hat and gloves of a gentleman not unwelcome to

[Illustration: The Rabbit Warren.]

those who looked for nobler works from such masterly hands.[25] Yet there were not wanting men who, when the hat and gloves in question occupied prominent positions in a fine picture by Landseer, demurred greatly to his expending time on these objects, which had been better otherwise employed. To a hat and gloves could not, by any process known to humanity, be imparted either pathos or character. Even Edwin Landseer failed in this, and there were those who distinguished between the more heartily wrought and truly pathetic pictures, and such representations of domesticities. The distinction which many professed to draw between these pieces of _genre_ painting and “A Dialogue at Waterloo,” which represents the Duke of Wellington and his daughter-in-law, was that in the one the painter’s heart was set open by his subject, whereas in the others there was nothing to open the heart. Although produced with but few years between them, the style of the former is weak, timid, and thin; that of the latter, solid, masterly, and broad. It has been said, doubtless by way of apologizing for the shortcomings of the domesticities, that the inspiration of the inferior works was a graceful one. Although later in its origin, we saw more of the studies to which we just referred in the “Waterloo,” than in the intermediary genre pictures. Here, then, are examples (1) of mere portraiture, lacking pathos, and failing even in Landseer’s hands; (2) a pathetic, grand subject moving him when the Duke of Wellington was in question and Waterloo to aid, in forming a contrasted subject with that of a lady’s chamber and other scenes of his work. Experts could hardly believe their eyes when the unfortunate pictures appeared with Landseer’s name to them. It was not, then, in mere portraiture that success was to be looked for when neither pathos nor character are present. Yet these pictures are recognized as the failures of our artist; and we refer to them here, because they are no less antipathetic and antithetical to many others which we have yet to describe, than to the studies we have just indicated. As to Landseer’s studies, Mr. Ruskin wrote, in “Pre-Raphaelitism,” p. 30:--“Edwin Landseer is the last painter but one whom I shall name: I need not point out to any one acquainted with his earlier works the labour, or watchfulness of nature they involve, nor need I do more than allude to the peculiar faculties of his mind. It will at once be granted that the highest merits of his pictures are throughout to be found in those parts of them which are least like what had been before accomplished; and that it was not by the study of Raphael that he attained his eminent success, but by a healthy love of Scotch terriers.” Undoubtedly Landseer learned next to nothing from Raphael. In the next chapter we shall show that he enjoyed facilities for studying the “Cartoons,” _i.e._ those examples of Raphael’s art which are greatest in style. By means of the Elgin marbles Landseer was imbued with that care for style which distinguished his best works, from “Fighting Dogs,” to the “Swannery Invaded,” one of his earlier, and one of his later pictures.




A.D. 1818 TO A.D. 1824.


Having now brought our artist to the verge of his career; shown the course of his studies; and indicated that quality of his genius which seems to have been most effective in making him what he was, we have next to set forth, in chronological order, some of his more remarkable works, and to describe their production as we should relate the history of special incidents in the life of a man of action. In one sense pictures are the actions of a great artist: he lives in them, and his life is of them.

We said that the first exhibited works of Edwin Landseer, “Portrait of a Mule,” and “Portraits of a Pointer Bitch and Puppy,” were sold with the collection of Mr. Simpson, the artist’s early friend;[26] the next painting that comes into notice is the portrait of “Brutus,” the property of the same gentleman, which was exhibited in 1817. This was, we believe, the little circular picture originally intended for the top of a snuff-box, and representing the head of a dog in full face, or nearly so, which was afterwards very finely engraved in 1818 by Mr. T. Landseer; the print styled “Old Brutus.” “Brutus” is depicted with a grizzled muzzle, ears not closely cropped, and having eyes expressing habits of consideration, as if he had seen the world and profited by experience; a hawk’s bell hangs beneath his chin. After the wont of dogs and men, this “wise and venerable” “Brutus” had a son, another “Brutus,” who became a very much-favoured and frequent model of Landseer’s; the animal was a gift from Mr. Simpson to the painter.

This son “Brutus,” whom we must, for distinction’s sake, call the second of the name, whose portrait appears in an early “Sportsman’s Magazine,” was a rough-hided, very sagacious-looking white dog, with a short tail, and signs, so far as strangers were concerned, of a shorter temper. Thus we judge by his portrait, as it was taken, whole canine generations since “Brutus II.” appeared. The picture was engraved by Mr. T. Landseer, having its scene in a stable, the floor of which is strewn with straw; a pipe and a bone are there to tell their tales. The canine inmate is a wiry-looking creature, tough, and light in limb, yet, withal, having every muscle instinct with life, and in courage such as makes him anything but loth to begin a combat. He has seemingly heard, or smelt, for he cannot yet see, the approach of a stranger of his own kind, whose muzzle is visible to us by means of the stable door being a few inches ajar, “with the chain up,” as folks say. This stranger is a representative of that ill-conditioned race, the bull-dog breed--the so-called “bull-poop”--much loved by Staffordshire colliers, whose wives, such is the local legend, are not seldom known to suckle the “poop” with the baby; although the former is, out of the Black Country, much abhorred by many men and dogs. Of the latter class, “Brutus II.” is evidently one, and we may thank the chain of the stable-door for keeping the animals apart; but for this, there would have been a dire “scrimmage” between the champions. We believe the same plate which supplied “The Sportsman’s Magazine” with this capital illustration was again used for the collected series of “engravings” before referred to from the works of our artist. The print is one of the most masculine specimens of its kind, and full of spirit and character. Edwin Landseer made a great pet of “Brutus II.,” taught him tricks, and very often painted him.

In the Anderdon Collection of Royal Academy Catalogues, which is now in the Print Room, British Museum, is a copy of a letter, formerly in the possession of Dawson Turner, which is characteristic of a young artist, and, as referring to this important picture of “Brutus,” may well find a place here. It was, no doubt, directed to Mr. W. W. Simpson:--

“Foley Street, Aug. 12, 1818.

“DEAR SIR,--I must beg to apologize for detaining the pictures so long, but hope you will now receive them safe, and that you will like the ‘Brutus,’ as it has generally been admired, and thought the best thing I have done on so small a scale. I am exceedingly obliged to you for your kind invitation, but am doubtful whether I shall be able to avail myself of the pleasure this season.

“I remain,

“Yours truly,


“P.S. I shall get on with your other picture as fast as possible. I think you left the subject to my choice.”

At the foot of the paper is a sketch of a greyhound chasing a hare, designed with great spirit. To this the following memorandum refers: “I don’t mean this for the subject.” The signature comprises the usual flourish which accompanied Landseer’s autograph; the handwriting is very neat and clear.

The “Portrait of Brutus” showed a white dog, lying at the full length of his chain, near a red earthenware dish. It is very small; and was sold, with the pictures of Sir John Swinburne, June, 1861, for seventy guineas. The bidding began at five guineas, and rose by one guinea at a time.

It will be observed that we are now writing of Edwin Landseer as an accomplished artist; yet, strange as it may seem, it is true that only the year before this picture of “Brutus” was exhibited, he was admitted a student in the Royal Academy. This is generally considered one of the earlier steps in an artistic career. So much, however, did our artist differ from most students, that he was an exhibitor before entering the Academy, and his progress had been carefully recorded in one of the periodicals of the day.

There is a pleasant story told of Fuseli, the Keeper, and Landseer’s entry to the Academy as a student, then a bright lad, with light curling hair, and a very gentle, graceful manner, and much manliness withal. He was a diligent student; and Fuseli would look round the room for him, and, alluding to the picture of “Brutus,” exhibited that year, say, “Where is my little _dog boy_?”

In the year 1817 was exhibited the “Portrait of an Alpine Mastiff,” which we have noticed while giving an account of early drawings and etchings by and after Edwin Landseer. This drawing, and two others, were exhibited with works by the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours, at the gallery in Spring Gardens. It is doubtless that which has been engraved by Mr. T. Landseer in 1818.

The year 1818 is noteworthy as constituting an important epoch in the life of our artist. He then produced a picture from which the present height of his reputation might have been predicted. This appeared at the before-mentioned exhibition of the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours, Spring Gardens, entitled “Fighting Dogs getting Wind” (No. 140); it excited an extraordinary amount of attention. The work was purchased by Sir George Beaumont, and this fact was accepted as giving a stamp of the higher order of distinction to the artist, who immediately rose in fame, and became “the fashion,” in a way in which those persons will easily realize who have read Haydon’s account of his own and Wilkie’s positions in the world under similar circumstances.

Here is a criticism on “Fighting Dogs getting Wind,” from “The Examiner,” p. 269, 1818, in a review of the exhibition of the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours. After refering

[Illustration: _Return from Deer Stalking._]

to the merits of certain landscapes which commanded the critic’s admiration, we are told, “Their pictures alone would elevate the character of this Exhibition; but when we add the ‘_Fighting Dogs getting Wind_,’ by our English SCHNEIDERS, young Mr. E. LANDSEER, and the masterly Drawings and Paintings by Mr. HAYDON, we give overflowing evidence of the justness of our preference of this Exhibition. It behoves the Keeper of the room to be careful how he admits any animals of the same species before the ‘_Fighting Dogs_,’ when we recollect the exciting effect which a ‘_Mastiff_’ by this young Animal Painter had last year upon a canine judge admitted to the room. We hope that E. LANDSEER will not deviate from his large touch into a littleness of style. His may be called the great style of Animal Painting, as far as it relates to the execution and colour; and the natural, as far as it concerns their portraiture. Did we see only the Dog’s collar, we should know that it was produced by no common hand, so good is it, and palpably true. But the gasping, and cavernous, and redly-stained mouths, the flaming eyes, the prostrate Dog, and his antagonist standing exultingly over him, the inveterate rage that superior strength inflames but cannot subdue, with the broad and bright relief of the objects, give a wonder-producing vitality to the canvas.” The writer was evidently deeply moved. It is impossible to refrain from smiling at the thought that Leigh Hunt’s, or his brother’s, influence in respect to “The Examiner” was thus represented with regard to pictures by their friend Haydon and Edwin Landseer. The painting is still at Coleorton; it was No. 422, in the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition of 1874. It has not been engraved.

Of one of Landseer’s contributions to the Royal Academy in 1818 Wilkie thus wrote to Haydon: “Geddes has a good head.[27] Etty has a clever piece, and young Landseer’s jackasses are also good.”[28] The picture thus referred to as by Landseer is styled “Portrait of a Donkey.” Wilkie’s memory tricked him about it, but his testimony of admiration is valuable. In these days the British Institution received superior attention from Landseer: and the Academy gatherings--where, however, his _début_ was made--rarely contained his more important productions.

Lady Charles Wellesley has a picture of this year, a thoroughly characteristic example of Landseer’s then current mode, which was mounted for the Hon. H. Pierrepoint, but not sent home, and when inquired for could not be found. It is called “White Horse in a Stable.” In 1842, many years after its disappearance, the work was discovered in a hayloft, where it had been hidden by a dishonest servant, and was sent by Sir Edwin with a letter to Mr. Pierrepoint, stating that the white horse “was the first of that complexion I ever painted,” and that he had not retouched it, thinking “it better when my early style unmingled with that of my old age.” In answer to a question as to price, he mentioned that the sum he was accustomed to receive at the time of painting this picture was Ten Guineas: see the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition Catalogue, 1874, p. 24.

In 1818 a satirical print was published in Elmes’s “Annals of the Fine Arts,” representing Haydon and his pupils drawing from Raphael’s Cartoon of “Elymas struck blind,”[29] which, as Haydon boasted, had by his means been brought to London and placed for the use of artists in the British Institution. This print is a rough etching, and entitled “A Master in the Grand Style & his Pupils;” it represents the interior of the gallery with three enormous canvases placed before the Cartoon, besides a smaller one and a portfolio, at which last a boy is drawing one of the heads on our right of Raphael’s work. Five copyists are busy, two of whom are identified by their portraits and inscriptions on their canvases, as, 1, Bewick, a “romantic” looking youth, who assumes “the grand style” of drawing, pressing his lips together demonstratively after the fashion of poor Haydon himself, while he steps backwards on the rickety platform and draws at arm’s length, sustaining his right elbow with his left hand; his inner mind is evidently divided between his studies and concern for his personal appearance, which is intended to be more than commonly beautiful by means of long curled locks tucked behind his ears, and a falling shirt-collar; his boots are of the smallest. The next artist, 2, is Thomas Christmas, one of Haydon’s pupils, wearing very big boots, his hair and collar being similar to those of his neighbour. The figures working at the smaller canvases on our left do not concern us here; but the portrait of a lad, who, perched on a ladder, measures with a pair of compasses the features of one of the faces in Raphael’s work is important, as it probably represents Edwin (see below) or Charles Landseer, the younger two of Haydon’s pupils, in the figure of a modest-looking, neatly-dressed boy. In the air is Haydon, wearing his broad-brimmed hat and spectacles, busily flying about as a bird and blowing his own trumpet as “Director of the Public Taste.”[30]

The joke is heightened by the publication line of the print stating that it was “Published for the Annals of the Fine Arts, No. 8, by Sherwood, Neely & Jones, Paternoster Row, April 1, 1818.” In this Journal it appeared with a long letter animadverting on Haydon and his pupils. If anybodies’ merits were certain to be recorded in Elmes’s “Annals,” they were those of Haydon and his pupils; but the editor, in order, as he stated, to show his impartiality, did not hesitate to publish the satire on his friends; he was doubtless assured that there was nothing Haydon enjoyed so much as notoriety. “Mr. E. Landseer” is named with his brother in the “Annals,” for 1818, p. 360, as among those who drew in chalk from the Cartoon of “The Beautiful Gate.” According to the “Annals,” ii. 433, the brothers, Thomas and Charles, drew the lictors and the figure of Elymas in the “Elymas struck blind” in 1817.[31]

Some of these drawings were exhibited by Haydon, 1819, in Pall Mall. “Messrs. Thomas Christmas and the two Landseers have taken their canvases to the Academy (British Institution), to make drawings from the Ananias,” &c., so says the “Annals,” No. 6, p. 436; and there seems to have been a tolerably unwise squabble about the pupils of Haydon and their drawings from this cartoon. (See pp. 442-3 of the same volume.)

“The Cat disturbed” was a picture of the year 1819, contributed to the British Institution, and afterwards engraved with the title of “The Intruder.” It, we believe, reappeared at the Gallery of the Society of British Artists in 1826, with the title of “The intrusive Visitor,” and represents a cat hunted to a high place in a stable by a dog, into whose quarters she had ventured. This was probably the work belonging to Sir C. Coote, of which Dr. Waagen wrote, in complete harmony with the opinion intimated in these pages, that Landseer at an early stage painted with greater solidity than in later days. It is now in the possession of Sir Philip de Malpas Egerton. Dr. Waagen says, “This picture exhibits a power of colouring”--by this he doubtless meant depth of tone, for colouring is simply out of the question in Landseers’s art--“and a solidity of execution recalling such masters as Snyders and Fyt.” Here we may as well say that no one has a true and complete, or even a satisfactory, notion of the spirit and vigour of our painter’s powers at this time unless he has studied these triumphs. They possess qualities not discoverable in his later works, but, of course, lack extraordinary merits which predominated when he grew older.

The preference often exhibited by Landseer for the British Institution appeared strongly in 1820, when a picture, which had been much talked about in professional circles, was shown at the gallery in Pall Mall, and attracted more admiration than the foregoing works. This was the famous “Alpine Mastiffs re-animating a distressed Traveller,” afterwards engraved by John Landseer, and due to studies of the magnificent dog of St. Bernard, to which we have referred as the property of “a gentleman of Liverpool,” according to the catalogue of the Spring Gardens gallery of 1817. This picture now belongs to Mr. S. Addington. (See below on the Exhibition in 1835 of “A Sleeping Bloodhound,” now at South Kensington.)

It must not be supposed that Landseer, so young as he was, produced small pictures only; on the contrary, the British Institution contained two paintings, one of which measured six feet by seven feet six inches; while its companion, “A Lion disturbed at his Repast,” was six feet by eight feet, “landscape way,” as artists say; _i.e._ the longer dimension was horizontal. At the same gathering appeared “A Lion enjoying his Repast.” We have observed Landseer with his brothers copying parts of the Cartoons of the same sizes as the originals. At this period--1821--he exhibited at the British Institution “The Seizure of a Boar,” with life-sized figures, which belongs to the Marquis of Landsdowne; it is full of action and worthy of the artist’s rising fame. We believe it has not been engraved. Haydon’s advice had been adopted--large works were undertaken, and a lion was dissected. An opportunity for the latter study occurred through the death of a lion in the Exeter Change Menagerie; this chance was seized, and the results were several lion pictures, as the above, and “A prowling Lion,” which was at the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1822.

After these, lion subjects were not produced for a considerable time; opportunities for anatomizing such costly and rare animals as lions do not often occur; yet, as we may presently observe, our artist was at a later day fortunate in obtaining at least one other chance of this kind. The history of this matter, and an anecdote respecting it, are narrated further on.

In 1821 the progress of our subject was continued with rapidity and honour. The pictures of that year were, at the Royal Academy, “Ratcatchers,” which is now at Lambton Castle, the property of the Earl of Durham, and may be taken to illustrate Landseer’s admirable inventive powers at this period, although it is by no means the most important of his productions of the kind and date. Three dogs are in an old barn, and as if they had gone wild with passion and anxiety, because a fourth, whose extreme latter end is visible, is “scurrying” rats in depths below the broken floor of the

[Illustration: _The Highland Mother._]

place. His tail gives expressive signals of excitement and rage, and, beyond all misunderstanding, indicates his furious desire to get at his foes. It is but slight comfort to the eager creatures that several of their enemies are already stretched on the floor, or that a living rat, half conscious of impending doom, springs and dances at the wires of a trap near his dead brethren--he is at once confined and fortified in bars of iron. A maltster’s shovel, birch broom, old cart-harness, traces of cart-gear, a bottle, and stray wisps of straw, litter the ground and aid the composition. This composition, as regards the dogs, is worthy of admiration. The three entirely visible dogs, may be described as follows: A big white terrier, in whom one fancies the “Brutus” of former pictures, plunges and “scurries” round the hole where the sunken comrade is at work; he grovels with his nose near the floor, and thrusts his head and chest forward in fierce action; his jaws are set, and his breath goes quickly in and out of his nostrils; his ears are thrown to the front as if to listen for squeaks in the region of the rafters; his eyes protrude and glitter with ravenous desire; his fore feet are spread widely apart, and his hind legs thrust far behind. The _chiaro scuro_ is disposed so that the white body of this dog is the chief object; the light falls powerfully on him, so that his colour aids the effect in the manner of the great masters of _chiaro scuro_--which is much more than mere “light and shade” in the common sense of that term. Behind,--with a white mark, like a splash of chalk on the back of his head and between his ears, his figure coming above that of the last-named animal,--squats on his haunches a black dog of less demonstrative but equally excitable temperament; his back is arched in a bow, he quivers, and bends his head over the searching terrier with an eager gaze that is very finely expressed. He seems to whimper now and then; but “Brutus,” if it be he, yelps, snaps, barks, and almost howls in his ardour. One sees that if the hole were big enough to admit the bigger dog he would swiftly pull out the pioneer and go in himself, confident in his own resources, in an emergency like this; but with all this valour he has discretion enough to know that the hole would never admit a bulky carcass like his own, and that the sole chance for him consists in the possibility that a rat may appear at some apparently unguarded crevice, or, delirious with fear, rush between the legs of the half-buried hunter. Farthest off is a smaller and younger terrier, who has the air of an amateur or representative of the “lay-element” of rat-catching.[32] This dog sits in a formal, affected manner, his ears are uncropped and hang like lappels[33] quaintly above his head, with no unapt likeness to the decorations on a cap of a fool of the Middle Ages. This is a younger dog, and as eager as his fellows, although less impressionable. The joys of rat combating are as yet untasted by him, or he may be the _dilettante_ he seems. This picture was, like many more by Landseer, engraved by his brother Thomas; it was published in 1823.

In the same year 1821, which produced the “Ratcatchers” for the Royal Academy, the British Institution was enriched with a picture that was engraved for “The Sporting Magazine,” or “Annals of Sporting,” and styled “Pointers To-ho!” The background shows a long level landscape, which is evidently a piece of nature; two pointers stand in the front, at the “foot” of the picture; behind them is a man with a gun: it is a thoroughly “sporting picture,” and as true to life as it is possible to be. A pen and ink sketch for “To-ho!” was sold at the artist’s sale, May 11, 1874, for twenty guineas. Of Landseer’s paintings of this year at the British Institution, Wilkie wrote to Sir George Beaumont, who was interested as the purchaser of a former picture: “Ward, Etty, Stark, Crome, and Landseer are successful, but in no great work.”

The year 1822 was to be marked with a white stone in the annals of a young artist like Edwin Landseer, because he then received the premium of one hundred and fifty pounds from the Directors of the British Institution for “The Larder invaded,” which was contributed to this exhibition of that date. In the same year Mr. George Jones, R.A., late Keeper of the Royal Academy, obtained two hundred pounds in acknowledgment of the merit of his “Battle of Waterloo.” In 1821, John Martin received two hundred pounds on account of his “Belshazzar’s Feast.” As to Martin, there is a story, originally told by himself, to the effect that he contributed a picture to the Royal Academy in 1812, and before sending it, and while washing his brushes in an adjoining room, had the pleasure of hearing the framemaker’s men dispute as to which was the top and which the bottom of the painting. This work is one of Martin’s finer productions, the poetical “Sadak in search of the Waters of Oblivion.”

In 1822, our painter likewise contributed “The watchful Sentinel” to the British Institution. This picture is in the possession of Mr. Chapman, of Manchester, and represents a large black dog watching packages by a road side; a post-chaise is in the distance.

There is an interesting passage in a letter by Wilkie to Sir George Beaumont, dated from No. 24, Lower Phillimore Place, 14th February, 1823; it throws a double light on the writer and our artist. The passage refers to what Sir David called a “niggling touch” in painting, as “very common of late in our pictures,” a defect, if such it was, that was due, no doubt, to over anxiety on the part of the artists, and to the desire “for fulness of subject,” whatever that may be. The writer stated: “I have been warning our friend Collins against this, and was also urging young Landseer to beware of it.” The fact was, Wilkie’s health, then breaking up, precluded that extreme care which distinguished his early and good pictures; moreover, his reputation was made, and he wanted to make money; this could not be done by “niggling,” so he aimed at breadth, as he called it, went abroad for health, came back over head and ears in asphaltum, and never painted a sound picture afterwards. Unfortunately, his better pictures, such as “The Blind Fiddler,” and “The Village Festival,” now in the National Gallery, have been repaired on account of excessive cracking.

Edwin Landseer’s early practice is thus curiously illustrated by Wilkie’s advice. At a later time, no one could caution the former against “niggling,” or enjoin cultivation of “breadth.” Nor was this required since the Highland subjects were taken up after the northern journey with Leslie in 1824; to the first of these we shall presently refer, under the title of “Highlanders returning from Deer-Stalking,” exhibited in 1827, the first contribution of the artist as an Associate of the Royal Academy.

“Neptune,” a picture of 1824, represents the head and shoulders of a huge Newfoundland dog, in full front view, with his mouth open and tongue shown; the head is black, with a white stripe dividing it, and having an oval spot of black on the white of the forehead; it is superbly designed, and treated in honour of the noble animal. It was painted for Mr. Ellis Gosling, and has been admirably engraved by the artist’s brother.

The best known of Edwin Landseer’s early pictures is “The Cat’s Paw,” which was exhibited at the British Institution in 1824, and now hangs in the dining-room at Cassiobury, the seat of the Earl of Essex. This work, which is painted on a panel, was bought of the artist for one hundred pounds, and sold a few days afterwards to the late Earl of Essex, a great patron of the arts, for one hundred and twenty pounds, and would probably be worth, if now sold, about three thousand pounds.

This was Sir Edwin’s estimate, made some years since, when, soon after the fever caused by Mr. Bicknell’s remarkably well-managed sale of pictures, the present Earl of Essex met the painter, and asked what he thought “The Cat’s Paw” would produce if it were sold. “About three thousand pounds,” was the answer. At the sale, which occurred in 1863, appeared illustrations of the increase in the value of Landseer’s pictures; thus “The Prize Calf,” which is by no means one of his best works, and for which he four years earlier received four hundred and twenty pounds, was resold for one thousand eight hundred and ninety pounds; “The Twa Dogs,” purchased for three hundred pounds, was sold for two thousand four hundred and fifteen pounds; “The Highland Shepherd,” exhibited in 1850, and bought for three hundred and fifty pounds, brought back again two thousand three hundred and forty-one pounds, ten shillings. As “The Cat’s Paw” now appears, it is hot and dark in tone, if compared with some silvery and more solid productions. It scarcely needs a description, yet we may point out how admirably the incident is told. The scene is a laundry, or ironing-room, probably in some great house, to which a monkey of most crafty and resolute disposition has access. The place is too neat and well-maintained to be part of a poor man’s house. The “ironing-woman” has left her work, the stove is in full combustion, and the hand of some one who appreciated the good things of life has deposited on its level top, together with a flat iron, half-a-dozen ripe sound chestnuts. To the aromatic, appetizing odour of the fruit was probably due the entrance of the monkey, a muscular, healthy beast, who came, dragging his chain, and making his bell rattle. He smelt the fruit and coveted them; tried to steal them off the cooking-place with his own long, lean digits, and burnt his fingers. He looked about for a more effective means and--heedless of the motherhood of a fine cat who, with her kittens, was ensconced in a clothes-basket, where she blandly enjoyed the coverings and the heat--pounced upon Puss, entangled as she was in the wrappings of her ease. Puss resisted at first with offended dignity and wrath at being thus treated before the faces of her offspring. She resisted as a cat only can, with lithe and strenuous limbs; the muscular, light, and vigorous frame of the creature quivered with the stress of her energy; she twisted, doubled her body, buckled herself, so to say, in convulsions of passion and fear, but still, surely, without a notion of the object of her captor. Yet he had by far the best of the struggle, for her tiger-like claws were enveloped in the covering which erst served her so comfortably; and, kicking, struggling, squalling, and squealing as strength departed from her, she flounced about the room, upset the coal-scuttle on the floor, and hurled her mistress’s favourite flower-pot in hideous confusion on the “ironing-blanket.” It was to no purpose, for the quadruped with muffled claws was no match for her four-handed foe. He dragged her towards the stove, and dreadful notions of a fate in its fiery bowels must have arisen in her heart, as nearer and still more near the master of the situation brought his victim. Stern, resolute, with no more mercy than the cat had when some unhappy mouse felt her claws--claws now to be deftly, yet painfully employed, Pug grasped her in three of his powerful hands, and, as reckless of struggles as of yells, squeals, and squalls, with the fourth stretched out her soft, sensitive, velvety fore-paw--the very mouse-slayer itself--to the burning stove and its spoils. What cared he for the bowed backs or the spiteful mewlings of her miserable offspring, little cats as they were? He made their mother a true “Cat’s Paw.”

This picture was engraved by C. G. Lewis. Shortly after its exhibition Sir Walter Scott came to London, and took the young painter to Abbotsford on his return, “where,” said

[Illustration: _Mare and Foal._]

Leslie, recording the circumstance, “he will make himself very popular, both with master and mistress of the house, by sketching their doggies for them.” It was probably due to the vein of thought and fancy most cultivated by Scott, and sure to affect his young visitor, that Landseer after this painted Scotch subjects and romantic themes, such as he had not previously indulged in. “Chevy Chase” was commenced shortly afterwards, and exhibited with marked effect on young Landseer’s fortunes. Leslie had been with Sir Walter, taking his portrait, and found the novelist to “dislike sitting very much,” and to be fonder of dashing out of doors with the “doggies,” rabbit-killing, and landscape hunting. The incident referred to by the picture at the British Institution in 1858 (see the Catalogue) probably occurred at this time. Landseer’s first visit to the Highlands was made in 1824. Leslie and he went in the London and Leith steamer. They visited Glasgow, and Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine, and crossed the mountains on foot to Loch Earn, in order to be present at an annual meeting of Highlanders, which occurred under the patronage of Lord Gwydyr, and included performances on bagpipes, dancing, broadsword exercise, and the like pastimes; the painters traversed Loch Earn in a large row-boat, with Highland rowers, who told them, says Leslie, in his “Autobiography,” stories of the fairies who haunted the shores. To this visit to Abbotsford was due the well-known “Scene at Abbotsford,” by Landseer, and from it he derived inspiration for Highland pictures. After this period he rarely failed to visit the north annually, and the catalogue of his works bears evidence of his studies there.

“Taking a Buck,” and “The Widow,” were Landseer’s contributions to the Royal Academy in 1825, with a portrait. “The Poacher” appeared in the same year at the British Institution. “The Hunting of Chevy Chase,” an important work, which has been repeatedly exhibited, was shown in the following season at the Academy. The affectionate deference paid by Edwin Landseer to his father at this time has been illustrated by the account of the difficulty he experienced in leaving the paternal roof. No one who knew the painter believes that he was likely to be weakly subservient to his father or any one else; or that in 1824, when in his twenty-second year, and already the possessor of a very considerable reputation, he was in any respect a timid recluse. Nevertheless, it is recorded that when one interested in bringing his pictures into note, called on the painter in the dingy studio he occupied in the Fitzroy Square region--it was, we believe, Upper Conway Street, now Southampton Street, Fitzroy Square, near where Mulready lodged in Cleveland Street--the visitor asked, “Why are you in this place, without a table, carpet, or proper chairs? why not have a place where you can keep a dog or two, and have a garden, and so on?” The answer was that the painter lived with his father, and occupied the place only to paint in. The offer of a hundred pounds for “The Cat’s Paw,” then just finished, a price satisfactory to the artist, did not induce him to conclude the bargain and set himself free from the paternal control. John Landseer managed his son’s affairs, settled the prices of his pictures, received the money, and treated Edwin in his twenty-second year as he had done when he was twelve years old. John Landseer did what Mr. Jacob Bell, many years afterwards, did for his friend, _i.e._ managed his affairs with zeal and discretion, and, perhaps, the father kept a tighter hold on the painter than the friend was able to maintain. This affectionate arrangement was proof against the second offer of one hundred pounds in a crisp bank-note for “The Cat’s Paw,” which thus came into the possession of the Earl of Essex, and not into that of the young artist’s friend. The same affection for his parent appeared in “Sketch of my Father,” 1848, the pathos of which was as simple as it was kindly. Of the same vein of feeling we find it recorded that in 1817 or 1818, the Landseers, in order to make a present to Haydon, when they were about to quit his tutelage, prepared a copy of one of the Cartoons which were at the British Institution; this copy--we are not certain if it was more than an important group--was a gift to Haydon. Sir Edwin bought and carefully preserved Haydon’s “Judgment of Solomon,” not only on account of the fineness of the picture, but, it is said, in kindly remembrance of his old adviser.




A.D. 1825 TO A.D. 1834.


“The Cat’s Paw” was sold, and soon after a renewed offer of pecuniary aid that he might establish himself, was accepted by the painter, and he found, near Regent’s Park, a small house with a garden; here a large barn was converted to a studio, and he set up his staff independently--not, however, without qualms of heart at thus quitting the “old house at home.” The fact is, he was not a man of business, nor a man of the world; he had remained so long in tutelage, and owed so much to his father, that it needed more than ordinary impulses ere he was induced to plunge into the world as the chief of a household. This diffidence was so strongly marked that, on learning that a premium of one hundred pounds was demanded for the house, Landseer was about to break off the negotiation in despair. But his adviser, who had endeavoured to buy “A Cat’s Paw,” came to his aid. “Well,” said he, on learning the difficulty which seemed insurmountable, “if that is the only obstacle, I will remove it. Go to the lawyers, and tell them to make out the lease, and that as soon as it is ready for signatures, you will pay the sum required, and I will lend you the money, which you can repay when it suits you, without interest.” This was agreed to, the lease was made out, and the money paid. Edwin Landseer returned the money by instalments of twenty pounds each, and this transaction concluded the history of the obtaining the house, which was enlarged as his means permitted and his convenience demanded. This is the house in which he lived for nearly fifty years, and in which he died. Here his sister, Mrs. Mackenzie, to whom the reader is much indebted, long acted as his housekeeper. Here the greater part of his life’s work was done, and in it, as we believe, John Landseer died. It was for many years the centre of the kindly painter’s _entourage_, where his friends were summoned to meet by hasty messages bidding them to pleasant parties, and it is the house which of all others in London belonging to artists has received the greatest number of distinguished visitors, always excepting that of Sir Joshua Reynolds in Leicester Square. Not long before, the district was open and the locality pertained to Red Hand Farm.[34] In those days deer were in Hyde Park, where one would now as soon expect to see a phœnix, or be gored by the stag that was painted in our artist’s next picture, as to encounter even a doe.

The “Portrait of Lord Cosmo Russell,” 1825, represents a boy in a Highland dress, holding a whip and galloping on a pony over a moor, with a dog running by his side. “Taking a Buck” shows three deer-hounds chasing a buck; one of the dogs has leaped at and seized its prey by the ear, and thus checked the progress of the latter, giving a keeper an opportunity for throwing a noose over his antlers, so that he may be pinioned and secured.

In 1826 appeared “The Dog and the Shadow” now at South Kensington. This is an illustration of the old fable; a dog with a piece of flesh in his mouth is crossing a brook by means of a fallen tree, and stops to gaze at the reflected image of himself and his prize. A worsted cap and a pair of shoes on the bank indicate that a butcher’s boy, who loitered to fish or bathe, has been plundered of part of his charge. Such is the official description. We believe it was about this time that Sydney Smith’s humorous reply was given to an invitation that he should sit to Edwin Landseer. He said, with that dashing readiness which characterized the man of jokes, “Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing?” This was a not very reverent paraphrase of the speech of Hazael, the messenger of Ben-hadad, king of Syria, to Elisha. There have been more than one claimant for the honour of saying this good thing; like many others of its kind, it was probably never “said” at all, but deliberately invented, with toil of brain and mental throes. There is another story of Sydney Smith, which is very good, and not less characteristic of the wit. Landseer said to the clerical dignitary, “With your love of humour, it must be an act of great self-denial to abstain from going to the theatres.” “The managers,” he replied, “are very polite; they send me free admissions, which I can’t use, and, in return, I send them free admissions to St. Paul’s.”

In 1826, when Landseer was twenty-four years of age, several of his works were etched by his pupil, Georgina, Duchess of Bedford.

The exhibition of the picture of “Chevy Chase” can hardly be said to have led to Landseer’s election as an Associate of the Academy. This honour was long anticipated, and the election occurred, as a matter of course, immediately on his attaining the age of twenty-four years, that being the limit prescribed by the laws of the artistic body. Sir Thomas Lawrence and Mr. Millais were among the few to whom similarly early elections have been vouchsafed. “Chevy Chase” is at Woburn Abbey, and the property of the Duke of Bedford, whose ancestor was the original purchaser. In this picture we see the fruits of Landseer’s visit to Sir W. Scott and to the Highlands, a district of which he may be said to have been the artistic prophet, and from which he derived more subjects than any other; its men, animals, and landscapes he illustrated from the picture next before us up to the “Flood in the Highlands” of 1860.

[Illustration: _Shepherd’s Dog and Pups._]

“The Chief’s return from Deer-stalking” (1827) is not only the first important Highland picture by our painter, but the first of his contributions to the Royal Academy as an Associate. It is one of the best of his compositions, the subject giving scope to all his powers in dealing with dogs, deer, and horses. Across the backs of a white and a black pony two magnificently antlered deer are bound. A young chief and his old companion, a mountaineer--with traces of the wear and tear of a hard life on his cheeks and in his gaunt eyes--step by the head of one of the horses. They go slowly and heedfully down the hill. Two dogs pace with them; one of these turns to a deer’s skull which lies in the herbage. With this picture is connected a more noteworthy point than those we have observed in the history of our subject. With it his style of execution was changed from the sound and deliberate firmness of youthful practice to the broader, freer, and more effective mode which next characterized his later work. The careful studies of earlier life enabled him to paint broadly, and with precision, and gave power to indicate at once that which, ere this time, was the result of ardent and long-sustained consideration. Amassed knowledge made the artist a master. It must not be concealed, however, that with this attainment of “mastery” no small sacrifice was made in solidity and elaboration of modelling. Facility that was marvellous, and dexterity which had the charm of magic, astounding to the observer, are somewhat dearly, though in a pecuniary sense profitably, purchased by the sacrifice of qualities which are higher and rarer than facility and dexterity.

With “The Chief’s return” appeared “The Monkey who had seen the World,” which was engraved by Gibbon as “The travelled Monkey,” and is a well-known design, showing the reunion of Pug and his untravelled friends. The latter are in their natural costume of hair, the former is dressed as a “beau,” with his head in powder and covered by a cocked hat of the most audacious _mode_; a cravat embraces his neck, and its widely-spreading ends cover his chest; a long-skirted, deep-pocketed, laced, stiff-collared coat holds his lean body, a large lapelled vest hangs nearly to his knees; breeches, stockings, and buckled shoes enclose his lower extremities; his tail is nowhere, but he carries, instead of it, a splendid cane, and bears round his neck a most superfluous eye-glass. His unsophisticated comrades contemplate this figure with expressions which may be readily imagined. The pendant eye-glass bothers them more than all the rest of his bedizenments. A few of the less bold monkeys squat and gibber behind the principal group. This picture belongs to the Baring Collection.

The British Institution comprised in this year (1827) with “Chevy Chase,” the well-known picture of a dog--Sir Walter Scott’s “Maida”--reclining by a piece of armour; a work which is entitled “Scene at Abbotsford,” and was, no doubt, designed during the visit of which we have spoken before. It is well known by Westwood’s capital engraving for the “Keepsake.” The year 1828 was for our subject one of comparative rest, so far as exhibitions were concerned; 1829 produced “The Illicit Whisky-Still in the Highlands,” an admirable work, familiar to most readers, and “A Fireside Party,” which is now at South Kensington, and shows how in a rude bothy several serious-looking terriers are lying and sitting in various attitudes of thoughtfulness and ease before the fire. These dogs belong to Malcolm Clarke, Esq., of Inverary, and are said to have been the original “Peppers” and “Mustards” described by Sir Walter Scott in “The Antiquary;” a descendant appeared in the picture of 1833, which represented Sir Walter himself and companions.

The year 1830 witnessed the election of our artist to the full honours of the Royal Academy. Having attained this point in his life, it will not be needful to follow his yearly steps; suffice it that it is our purpose to deal chiefly with Landseer’s more important productions, and to note his accessions to honours.

In “High Life” and “Low Life,” which are in the Vernon Gift, and now in the National Gallery, we have contrasted conditions. The gentle, gentlemanly stag-hound, apparently the dog of the “Scene at Abbotsford,” appears in the former of these paintings, which were first exhibited at the British Institution in 1831, and are noteworthy on account of their size, being not more than eighteen inches by thirteen inches and a half. They are among the smallest of celebrated pictures, and, comparatively, mere sketches. The second subject is a broad and brawny bull-dog, the _aide_ of a butcher, by whose block, and guarding whose hat, pipe, boots, and pot, he sits. Our dog here is in a state of satisfaction with the recent past and the soon to come: he has had a capital meat breakfast--note the beef bone in front of the step; the sun is bright and warm, so that it makes him lazily blink one eye, while the other, being shaded, is watching. Fat, he lounges against the jamb of the door; the savour, nay the very flavour of the bone and its adjuncts, lingers about his muzzle, which he licks gently and unctuously. His prospects are almost as agreeable as his experiences; for is he not about to have a ride in the cart--note the whip hanging on the door-latch, and the boots--to market, where there will be company and canine sports. Mr. Ruskin has studied “Low Life” from his proper point of view, which is, of course, not that to be adopted in this book. See “Modern Painters,” v. 271. “Cunning signifies especially a habit or gift of over-reaching, accompanied with enjoyment and a sense of superiority. Its essential connections with vulgarity may be at once exemplified by the expression of the butcher’s dog in Landseer’s ‘Low Life.’ Cruikshank’s ‘Noah Claypole,’ in the illustrations to ‘Oliver Twist,’ in the interview with the Jew, is, however, still more characteristic. It is the intensest rendering of vulgarity absolute and utter with which I am acquainted.”

“Poachers Deer-Stalking,” another famous picture, appeared in this year (1831), with “Too Hot!” “A Lassie herding Sheep,” sent to the British Institution in 1832, was at the Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, and at that time the property of William Wells, Esq. It needs no description here. In 1832 was exhibited a picture, which most fortunately illustrates the perfect command of the brush and the extraordinary facility which long-continued and severe studies gave to our painter. This was “Spaniels of King Charles’s Breed,” which is now in the Vernon Gift, in the National Gallery. It is sometimes styled “The Cavalier’s Pets,” and represents two dogs lying on a table, by the side of a grey hat with a large drooping ostrich feather stuck in its band. The dogs were pets of Mr. Vernon’s, and the sketch was made in his house as a commission to Landseer, but, after a short sitting, not continued for some time. One day Mr. Vernon met the artist in the street, and reminded him of the commission. Two days later the work as it now appears was delivered at Mr. Vernon’s house, although it was not begun when the meeting happened. It is due to not more than two days’ labour, and a triumph of dexterity in brush working, showing as much facility as the ancient fresco painters exhibited when they dealt with and completed an important head of a man in one day. The sweeping touches by which the feather in the felt hat is expressed have been placed with exquisite precision, and deserve the most careful consideration of all students and amateurs in dexterous art. This kind of execution, of which Landseer’s pictures exhibit innumerable illustrations, is magical; it is really more like penmanship, in which the artist astounds us by elaborate and super-skilful flourishes and the flow of lines in lines, than downright painting of the stricter order, which is not contented with exquisite craftsmanship alone. In this category of triumphs must be classed the countless imitations of hair and feathers which consummate “dragging” of the brush and incomparable skill enabled Landseer to produce rapidly and frequently. It is said, although our memories cannot verify the statement, that Landseer sent a picture of “Rabbits” to the British Gallery, _i.e._ the British Institution, under which he wrote, “Painted in three-quarters of an hour.”[35] Both the dogs in Mr. Vernon’s picture came to violent ends, so says our authority for this matter.[36] The white Blenheim spaniel fell from a table and was killed; the true “King Charles” fell through the railings of a staircase in his master’s house, and was picked up dead at the bottom. The history of another ill-fated dog, a subject of Landseer’s art, will be found in our account of “The sleeping Bloodhound,” which was exhibited at the British Institution in 1835, and is now in the National Gallery. This anecdote likewise illustrates Landseer’s amazing facility. Hardly less remarkable is the fact that the Hon. W. Russell’s picture “Odin,” which was exhibited in 1836, was painted within twelve hours, or at “one sitting.”[37]

As to Landseer’s facility of execution, Mr. Redgrave truly wrote thus:--“That happy facility which has already been alluded to is fairly to be illustrated in the works of Sir Edwin Landseer. Examine carefully ‘A Fireside Party,’ No. 90 (Sheepshanks Gift); here the hairy texture of the veritable race of ‘Pepper’ and ‘Mustard’ is given, as it were, hair for hair, yet it was achieved at once by a dexterous use of the painter’s brush. Or turn from this work to ‘The tethered Rams’ (No. 95, Sheepshanks Gift), where the fullest truth of a woolly texture is obtained by simply, with a full brush, applying the more solid pigment into that which has already been laid on as a ground, with a large admixture of the painter’s vehicle; days might be spent endeavouring to arrive at a result which the painter has achieved at once. The early works of this painter are a complete study for light-handed and beautiful execution; they look intuitively perfect, yet many instances are known of his extreme rapidity of execution.” It should be noted that Mr. Redgrave must refer to pictures which might be truly, if relatively, styled “early works” of Landseer. The works to which we have called attention as produced before 1826 are examples of happily directed labour, not drudgery, and anything rather than displays of tact in painting and dexterity in handling. Note the passage we have quoted from Wilkie’s letter to Sir George Beaumont. It is needful to interpose this statement, because too many persons admire such facility as an end, whereas it is but a felicitous means in art. The extraordinary felicity and skill of our painter followed more than twenty years hard study. Foolish ideas often rise in the minds of those who read stories such as we have just given, which stories are truer than the tale of the exasperated painter--was it Rubens or Zeuxis?--who dashed the foam in a pictured horse’s mouth by angrily casting his brush at the painting. Mr. Redgrave continues:--

“In the collection of the late Mr. Wells, of Redleaf, among many other works by this artist (Landseer) are two which are peculiarly illustrative of this quality; one is a spaniel rushing out of a thicket with a wounded rabbit. The rabbit and dog are of the size of life, they have the fullest appearance of completeness, yet the picture was painted in two hours and a half. The other picture is of a fallow deer, and of the size of life, painted down to the knees. Mr. Wells used to relate that on leaving the house to go to Penshurst Church, the panel for this picture was being placed on the easel by his butler, and, on his return in about three hours, the painting was complete; so complete, indeed, that it is more than doubtful if equal truth of imitation could have resulted from a more ---- execution.”

This picture was in the Royal Academy, 1874, No. 350. Finally, as to this astonishing facility in painting, let us write that in the National Portrait Exhibition of 1868, was a portrait of the second Lord Ashburton (No. 467), a three quarters view, painted on a canvas thirty-six inches high, by twenty-eight inches wide, and said to have been executed, like “Odin,” in one sitting. Of course it is not highly-finished. As a vigorous sketch, the thinking and power of execution involved in such rapid production are marvellous. A picture, “Spaniel and Rabbit,” No. 405, at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, was inscribed by the artist “painted in two hours and a half.”

But by far the most amazing instance of the technical powers of our subject is that which is in itself, without regard to Landseer, a subject of extraordinary interest to physiologists, and inquirers into the nature of the action of the brain and the distribution of nerve power. Our informant is Mr. Solomon Hart, a Royal Academician remarkable for his accomplishment and acute observation. A large party was assembled one evening at the house of a gentleman in the upper ranks of London “society,” crowds of ladies and gentlemen of distinction were present, including Landseer, who was, as usual, a lion; a large group gathered about the sofa where he was lounging; the subject turned on dexterity and facility in feats of skill with the hand. No doubt the talk was ingeniously led in this direction by some who knew that Sir Edwin could do wonders of dexterous draughtsmanship, and were not unwilling to see him draw, but they did not expect what followed. A lady, lolling back on a settee, and rather tired of the subject, as ladies are apt to become when conversation does not appeal to their feelings or their interests, exclaimed, after many instances of manual dexterity had been cited, “Well, there’s one thing nobody has ever done, and that is draw two things at once.” She had signalized herself by quashing a subject of conversation, and was about to return to her most becoming attitude, when Landseer said, “Oh, I can do that; lend me two pencils, and I will show you.” The pencils were got, a piece of paper was laid on the table, and Sir Edwin, a pencil in each hand, drew simultaneously, and without hesitation, with the one hand the profile of a stag’s head and all its antlers complete, and with the other hand, the perfect profile of a horse’s head. Both drawings were full of energy and spirit, and although, as the occasion compelled, not finished, they were, together and individually, quite as good as the master was accustomed to produce with his right hand alone; the drawing by the left hand was not inferior to that by the right.

This showed that the artist’s brain was acting in two directions at once, controlling two distinct limbs in similar but diverse operations, for it was observed by our informant that the acts of draughtsmanship were strictly simultaneous and not alternate. Had the latter been the case the feat would have been of deft draughtsmanship, about which no one would have questioned the ability of Landseer. This feat far surpasses that of chess-players who continue six games at chess at one sitting, without seeing any board. Feats like that of the chess-players, however wonderful, differ in kind from the unparalleled one we have described. These are efforts of astoundingly powerful memories and acts of the clearest mental vision combined with that faculty with which chess-players seem to be specially endowed, possession of which, however, by no means proves superior mental ability. Landseer’s feat was another sort, and proved him capable of “doing two things at once,” things which singly were, no doubt, easy of accomplishment by an artist of his faculties, but when simultaneously performed in duplicate were such as have not hitherto been recorded. Mrs. Mackenzie has enabled us to confirm this account of her brother’s feats in draughtsmanship.

“The Stone-breaker’s Daughter,” a picture of the year 1830, engraved by J. Burnet, shows a group by a Highland roadside; an old man, with a plaid over his head, squats on the ground, hammer in hand, snuff-mull by his side; his pretty daughter, of twelve years or thereabouts, has brought the old fellow’s dinner in a basket; a dog licks her hand affectionately, as the damsel loiters to gossip with her father. This is an agreeable picture, but possesses no particular interest of sentiment or technical value.

[Illustration: _Cow and Calf._

_Chal. G. L. 1847._]

“Waiting for the Deer to rise,” 1831, otherwise “Poachers Deer-stalking,” represents three Highlanders crouching near the summit of a hill, one of whom holds a dog round the neck to restrain him, while another, with a gun in one hand and a branch in the other, looks for the coming of the game. It was painted for Mr. E. Holden, of Aston Hall, Derbyshire, and some years afterwards sold for 819_l._ It measures two feet three inches by one foot eight inches and a half.

“Hawking,” 1832, shows a lady mounted on a white horse, with attendants riding and on foot, with dogs and hawks; the group is on the border of a lake; a falconer in the mid-distance flies a hawk at a soaring heron on our left; a bare-headed page stands at the head of the lady’s palfrey, holding its bridle. “Waiting for the Countess,” a portrait of a dog belonging to Lady Blessington, engraved by Wass, was painted in this year.

In 1833 Sir Edwin painted the figures of “The Harvest in the Highlands,” of which Callcott produced the landscape. This combination was sent to the Academy in the same year, when an unusual number of Landseer’s pictures were exhibited. For our present purpose, the most important is the inimitable “Jack in Office” (in the South Kensington Museum, Sheepshanks Gift). The faculty of Landseer’s mind which is most popular, because most obvious in its manifestations, was humour, of which few painters possessed a greater share. True humour, however, contains pathos, and sets us thinking even when we smile. This sort of humour is shown in “A Jack in Office.” An itinerant dealer in dog’s-meat has left his barrow in an alley, and under the guardianship of a satiated mongrel, whilst he transacts business, probably across the counter of a tavern. The tight-skinned custodian has seated himself on the barrow, as on a throne, where he receives the courtier-like attentions of his hungry and less fortunate fellow-creatures. One wretched beast exhibits his lean carcase, pleading for pity; another, seated on his tail, begs _in formâ pauperis_, with dropped paws, and adulatory whine; a third appeals to the guardian’s gallantry and devotion to her sex: but in vain; he sits in calmness and pride; a half-twinkle is in his eye, as though he saw the motives of all, and scorned the meaner supplicants. Also, he seems experienced in the canine world, for under his half-closed and disdainful eyelids is a sharp look at the self-degrading beggar: he thus watches because he feels this beast to be devoid of principle, a rascal who might, if the eye should only wink, dash upon the spoil and fly. A _coup d’état_ of this kind must, let it be noted, be successful; and, by dogs of bolder spirits than these, could be attempted. One must, in that case, sacrifice himself for the common good; there is none to do so. The meagre beast in front is a pointer, and all about him is pitiable; he must have lost his character ere he sunk so low as this; his drivelling mouth, sunk chaps, nervous and imploring eyes, shaking limbs and quivering tail indicate a born gentleman driven to implore charity, with signs of utter famishing as the utmost appeal. A contrast is seen in the person of a dark puppy, who, having devoured his “ha-porth,” nervously gnaws the skewer which held it, and quivers with unsatisfied greed. One discerns that the guardian is a thorough dog of business, because he pays not the slightest attention to this little customer, who, having legally acquired his portion, is not under surveillance. Besides, if he did anything wrong, has he not a responsible master? There is such a hateful disdain about the “Jack in Office,” that the spectator, heedless of morality, and reckless of the rights of property, hopes one of the dogs will sacrifice himself for the general luck, and engage the watcher in combat, while the others fall to. There are volumes of character in this picture, which are sustained even by the placing of a dog in the distance, looking on, as if in hopes to profit by the chances of a _mêlée_.

“The naughty Boy,” exhibited at the British Institution in 1834 as “A naughty Child,” and well known by means of Finden’s engraving, was a portrait of a sulky little urchin whom Landseer essayed to paint on account of the determination his features exhibited and the sturdiness of his handsome face and frame. The boy being in a rebellious frame of mind, was brought straight from his school to the workshop of the painter; sulky at first, he became outrageous when he saw his enemy seated with a kindly laugh on his face; pouting, the boy frowned and hugged himself with his own arms, blew bubbles between his compressed lips, scowled, and obstinately turned his knees in. Pending the preliminaries of the picture, the irate young gentleman was left standing alone in the centre of the room. Wrath overcame him at seeing resistance would be useless; with dreadful clangour, he flung down his slate like the shield of a wounded Homeric hero and, skulking into the corner, savagely cried, “I _won’t_ be painted!” and was painted for the admonition of all “naughty” boys, so that “his knit and furrowed forehead” gathers itself under a fine head of flaxen hair, twisted into Gorgonian curls, and quivering with determination and wrath. It is right to notice how the self-devouring passion of the child makes him shrink into the smallest possible space, and turn his toes in, huddling his feet together, while his arms are pressed against his sides, and his shoulders raised, as though every power of body and mind concentrated itself. The artist introduced accessories from an infants’ school, including a book lying on a form, &c.




A.D. 1834 TO A.D. 1842.


In 1834 many place the attainment of Sir Edwin Landseer’s highest level in art; “Suspense” then appeared at the Academy, with “A Highland Shepherd Dog rescuing Sheep from a Snowdrift,” “A Scene of the olden Time at Bolton Abbey,” and other works. Of these, to our minds, “Suspense” is by far the best picture, and aptest illustration of genius; on this, if we chose, his honour should rest. “In some cases,” says Mr. Redgrave, with reference to it, “the invention of the artist is exerted rather to exercise and call forth the imagination of the spectator than to display his own.” “Suspense” is an excellent example of the pictures of this class. A noble bloodhound is watching at a closed door, shut out, one may imagine, from the wounded knight, his master. There are the steel gloves removed from the now powerless limbs--the torn eagle-plume tells of the deadly strife, and the continuous track on the floor shows how his life-blood flowed away drop by drop as he was borne within. Who does not watch with the faithful hound in deep “suspense” for some token that his master yet lives? Others, again, can read the picture far differently: these may imagine that the dog has tracked the author of some act of violence or deed of blood; the plume, torn from the casque of the struggling man, lies on the floor sprinkled with the blood shed in the struggle ere the victim was borne within the now closed portal; we recognize the scuffle of the moment, his hand clutching the door-post with fearful energy to prevent the closing, the stifled cries, the hopelessness of resistance. Yet there, like a watchful sentinel, waiting in silence, the animal crouches, whose instinct teaches him to follow untiringly the object of his search; the spectator himself waits in anxious eagerness for the reopening of the door, anticipates the spring of the animal and the renewed struggle that will ensue. In the course of Mr. Ruskin’s magnificent criticism on Tintoret, Titian, Velazquez, Veronese, and Landseer, as dog-painters, are remarks on the last-named artist which, however true they are in respect to Landseer’s “drawing-room” pictures, award but scanty justice to the masculine author of “Suspense” and its class.--See “Modern Painters,” 1860, v. pp. 260-3.

“The Highland Shepherd Dog rescuing a Sheep from a Snow-drift” tells its own tale, and needs no explanation from us. The sheep is almost smothered, its struggles avail little, but the sagacious “collie” aids it by clearing away the snow.

“Bolton Abbey in the olden Time,” engraved by Mr. S. Cousins, has been interpreted in many ways.[38] It is, perhaps, the most popular of the painter’s productions, and yet, except “Windsor Castle,” it is that which least satisfies the critic. Primarily, the difficulty of fairly and naturally interpreting it, the lack of imagination it evinces, and the artificial posing of the figures, are defects which the analytical mind hardly overcomes; secondly, it has the air of a collection of portraits of modern folks, and so belies its title. The dogs and game pertain to another category, and deserve differing judgment. The work belongs to the Duke of Devonshire. Of this our artist said that it was the first picture for which he got £400. It looks as if it had been “done on purpose,” is really only less spontaneous than the deplorable “Windsor Castle.” The monk was a portrait of Sir A. W. Callcott; Mrs. Mackenzie sat for the girl with the fish; the falconer’s boy was one Sidney Smith, a frequent model of Sir Edwin’s--not the Canon of St. Paul’s. The picture has been engraved three times, and, separately, more than one of its elements.

In the Sheepshanks Gift is a picture exhibited in 1834, the humorous and characteristic “Highland Breakfast,” showing several sheep dogs and terriers anxiously waiting the cooling of a mess of hot milk, which has been put before them in a pan. That impatient beast whose back is towards us risks his nose and vainly demurs to the delay; the next, a canine mother, yields a meal to her puppies, but gets none herself; another, longing but prudent, sniffs, and feeding in imagination, licks his mouth; beyond, a staid, experienced, and dignified retriever is content to bide his time, knowing that he, at least, will get a lion’s share; a little white terrier, toady to the last, vainly imitates his self-command. The mistress of the shieling, a fair young mother, nourishes her babe in the most approved fashion.

“The Drover’s Departure, Scene in the Grampians,” was at the Royal Academy in 1835; a picture arising out of the departure of herds from the Highlands. In the foreground the grandfather has his horn filled with “mountain dew” by his daughter, whose husband, just behind, caresses their youngest child. The plighted lovers in the background discuss probabilities. The droves are assembled, the old dog suckles her puppies for the last time, the old white pony has lost his front teeth, therefore bites sideways the last meal of home grass, the hen defends her chickens against an aggressive and hilarious puppy, the boy promotes the strife, the old woman “fidgets” every one about her. Note the position of the lovers’ hands. For the old shepherd on our left of the foreground of the composition, Mr. John Landseer was the model, Mr. R. Leslie, the marine painter, son of the first R.A. of that name, sat for the boy, who, in front, is engaged with the puppies. This picture is at South Kensington, part of the Sheepshanks Gift; “The tethered Rams” is a study for part of it. The last-named work was at the Royal Academy in 1839, is now part of the Sheepshanks Gift, and may be referred to here. The official description is the best, “Two rams are tethered to an old and fallen tree, and watched by two sheep dogs; in the mid-distance the flock is feeding under the care of a shepherd, who is talking with a Scottish lassie near him. A loch and mountains form the background.”

We have remarked that Landseer contributed some of the most popular as well as some of the best pictures to the British Institution; an instance, which has a very interesting anecdote attached to it, occurred in respect to “A sleeping Bloodhound” (“Countess”), sent to Pall Mall in 1835, a date to which our remarks have reference. This work is now in the National Gallery, bequeathed by Mr. Jacob Bell, Landseer’s constant friend and zealous “man of business.” It represents “Countess,” a dog of the kind indicated by the title, lying as if asleep, with the body slightly curved, the jowl resting on the floor and the forepaws extended. The picture has been admirably engraved by Mr. T. Landseer. The following is its history:--The hound whilst lying on a parapet at the Clock-House, West-hill, Wandsworth, Mr. Jacob Bell’s house, overbalanced herself, and falling between twenty and thirty feet, died during the night, and was taken on the following morning (Monday) to St. John’s Wood, in hopes of securing a sketch of his old favourite, who had long been waiting for a sitting. Speaking of Sir Edwin, Mr. Bell said:--“The sight of the unfortunate hound suddenly changed an expression of something approaching vexation (at the interruption during his work) into one of sorrow and sympathy, and after the first expression of regret at the misfortune, the verdict was laconic and characteristic--‘This is an opportunity not to be lost; go away; come on Thursday, at two o’clock.’ It was then about midday, Monday. On Thursday, two o’clock, there was ‘Countess’ as large as life, asleep, as she is now.” Another authority states that she knew Mr. Jacob Bell, and lived in the house at Wandsworth, from the balcony of which the dog fell. She had often heard Mr. Bell give the following version of the circumstances:--“The hound was, one dark night, anxiously watching her master’s return from London. She heard the wheels of his gig and his voice, but in leaping from the balcony where she watched, she missed her footing and fell all but dead at her master’s feet. Mr. Bell placed the hound in his gig and returned to London, called Sir Edwin Landseer from his bed, and had a sketch made then and there of the dying animal.”

The rapidity with which this picture was produced is another illustration of the facility of Sir Edwin’s brush; the canvas is no little one, it measures three feet three inches high, by four feet one inch wide.

“Comical Dogs,” now at South Kensington, shows two large, rough terriers, who have been decorated by their master, the one with an old woman’s cap, and a pipe in its mouth, the other with a great Scotch bonnet. There is a good deal of humour in this picture, but it is not one of the artist’s best paintings.

“Odin,” engraved by Mr. W. H. Simmons, a fine picture of a famous dog, and others, were exhibited in 1836. “Odin” belongs to Mr. W. Russell. We have already related an anecdote of its execution. “Odin” was a smooth mastiff, the property of Mr. Russell. In 1836 was published

[Illustration: _Donkey and Foal._]

“The Sportsman’s Annual,” with illustrations by Edwin Landseer, A. Cooper, and C. Hancock, thirteen lithographs of dogs, with a descriptive text.

In 1837 came “The Highland Shepherd’s Chief Mourner,” which is far more touching than direct appeals to the imagination: a lonely shepherd has finished a long life, and the picture represents his coffin covered by his maud for a pall, with his dog, the trusty companion of his later years, and chief mourner, the single and faithful guardian of the dead. The expression and attitude of the friendless animal suggest almost human woe; his limbs seem relaxed and without life, as, pressing close to the coffin and resting his head on it, he broods over his loss. The pious life of the shepherd is hinted by a Bible on a stool in front, his age and infirmities by the spectacles beside the book, never more to be used.[39]

“The Shepherd’s Grave,” painted in 1837--which appeared with the Art Treasures at Manchester, in 1857--was a picture of similar inspiration. A sheep dog lingers by his master’s grave, his head declines over the fresh heap of earth, with its bindings of withy. The moon is rising on the horizon, yet the dog remains. To show how recent has been the master’s decease, the white stone displays an incomplete inscription; the carver will return in the morning, his tools lie ready, but the dog will remain all night, and until there is no more day for him. The picture belongs to Mr. W. Wells, M.P.

“The Portrait of the Marquis of Stafford, and the Lady Evelyn Gower,” placed before the public in 1838, is a pretty picture of a girl with a fawn, round the neck of which she has placed a garland; a spaniel sits “begging” before her; a boy in a short dress, with bare shoulders and legs, is seated on the grass in front and looks up, while a noble deer-hound lolls against a tree; it is probably Landseer’s best portrait-picture. It was beautifully engraved by Samuel Cousins.

“The Life’s in the old Dog yet,” exhibited in 1838, and now the property of Mr. John Naylor, is poetical and pathetic. An old deer-hound, champion of many a hunting, was over-eager in pursuit of the deer which lies shattered at the foot of a cliff. The deer fell in a desperate leap, the dog, being close on his haunches, overran himself and fell. When the hunters came the difficulty was to recover the old dog and bring up the deer. An ancient sportsman was let down by a rope, and, in the words which give a title to the picture, hails the folks above, while he sustains the head of the dog.

When this picture was comprised in the Art Treasures Exhibition at Manchester, in 1857, it hung close to Mr. J. R. Herbert’s, “Lear disinheriting Cordelia,” a subject the artist had treated with sufficient demonstrativeness in the action and expression of the king. A humorous mistake was made by a person who was attracted by the effective design of Landseer’s brother Academician. In the broadest “Yorkshire” he demanded of a companion, “What’s 329?” The latter blundered, and read from the catalogue the title of No. 331, “There is life in the old Dog yet.” “So there is, _to be sure_!” ejaculated the inquirer, in happy ignorance.

The year 1838 was remarkable in the annals of Landseer, for in the Exhibition of that year was one of the finest of his works, “A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society”--the large Newfoundland dog, with a black head and a white muzzle, reclining on the last stone of a quay, while the summer ripples slowly rise at the sea-wall, where the mooring-ring catches the lapsing wavelet as it runs along the stone. The likeness of the dog is a wonderful representation; this may be truly said, notwithstanding all that can be averred in respect to the _chic_ and dexterity, of the painter. The trick of an earnest expression, the semi-human pathos of the dog’s eyes, is not less effective than truthful. He lies in the broad sunlight, and the shadow of his enormous head is cast sideways on his flank as white as snow. He looks seaward with a watchful eye, and his quickness of attention is hinted at by the gentle lifting of his ears. The painting of the hide, here rigid and there soft, here shining with reflected light, there like down; the masses of the hair, as the dog’s habitual motions caused them to grow; the foreshortening of his paws as they hang over the edge of the quay; and the fine sense of chiaroscuro displayed in the whole, induce us to rank it with the painter’s masterpieces. Superbly engraved by Mr. T. Landseer, it now belongs to Mr. Newman Smith.

“Dignity and Impudence” was at the Art Treasures Exhibition, Manchester, and first shown at the British Institution in 1839, with the title “Dogs.” The noble bloodhound of the Duke of Grafton’s breed who calmly regards an approaching person, has received on terms of intimacy a snappish little Scotch terrier, whose irritability is not soothed by grand companionship. The big dog’s name was “Grafton,” a name of his family; that of the little one is unknown to fame. The picture was bequeathed by Mr. Jacob Bell to the National Gallery. It was engraved admirably by Mr. T. Landseer, and, again, severally, by Mr. Zobel and Mr. Davey.

In the year 1839 appeared “Van Amburgh and his Animals,” a different work from that which belongs to the Duke of Wellington and was at the Academy in 1847. The latter is the less acceptable of the two; both have merits, but in the eyes of critics neither, nor any of Landseer’s later paintings of lions, approach those works of his youth we have named, “A prowling Lion,” and “A Lion enjoying his Repast.” The artist had, during a considerable portion of his life, continued his studies from lions, and whenever Mr. Mitchell, Secretary of the Zoological Society, had a dead lion on his hands, the refusal of the corpse was offered to Landseer. Until the painter was consulted, there was small chance of a zoologist dissecting “a king of the beasts.” There is a story, told originally by Charles Dickens, or at least so often fathered on that writer that it may belong to him. It is the counterpart of the tale of Sydney Smith, on “Is thy servant a dog?” Some of our artist’s ways were strange to visitors, and stories float about them which are untrue, but there is strong probability in that which tells how one evening, while a few friends were assembled at the house in St. John’s Wood, the door of the room was suddenly opened by a man-servant, who said,--with _sang-froid_ which indicated volumes as to the nature of a speaker to whom nothing seemed unreal,--“Did you order a lion, sir?” If such beasts had arrived daily at the door, the question could not have been uttered with more imperturbability. The guests looked to their host for an answer. It is said that some were afraid, or pretended to fear, that a living lion was loitering at the gate, waiting Sir Edwin’s word to enter. No one could be quite sure; but none present expected to be given to the lion. The explanation that calmed all real or pretended fears was soon obtained; Landseer was no more prepared than his company for the question of the henchman. A lion had died suddenly at the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park--a lion well known to Sir Edwin. It was evening when this occurred, and the Secretary had the dead beast put in a cart, and driven to No. 1, St. John’s Wood Road, where the party was assembled, as a present acceptable to the host. As lions do not die daily in this country, the gift was worthy of the Society and the receiver. It was from this model that the picture “Nero” was painted; and it is said that the lion of that name left his skin to the British Museum; at any rate it is certain that, being duly stuffed with straw, his hide received popular admiration in a glass case in one of the upper galleries of Bloomsbury.

Sir Edwin’s lion pictures were by no means numerous. “A Lion disturbed at his Repast,” 1821, before alluded to, was the first, and accompanied by “A Lion enjoying his Repast.” The next was “Van Amburgh and his Lions,” 1839; the other, derived from the same materials, appeared in 1847. The lions of Trafalgar Square were the last we owe to Sir Edwin. Our readers remember how tardy was the appearance of these sculptures--how long Nelson’s monument remained unfinished. Besides the above, Landseer painted a picture which has not been exhibited, styled “The Lion’s Den.” This was engraved by John Landseer.

“The Lion-Dog of Malta--the last of his Tribe,” was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840, and shows the white flossy little creature, with a hawk’s-bell at his neck, lying on a table close to the head of a huge Newfoundland dog, on whose nose the smaller beast has placed a puny, long-fringed paw. The latter looks with glittering ferret’s eyes through its overhanging mane. The enormous head of the larger dog is bigger than the whole carcase of the little one; and his eyes have the trick of a deep, earnest expression, which none caught so well as Landseer. On the front of the group are instruments for drawing, a porte-crayon, brushes, pencils, a stump, and quill pen. Before these lies a piece of bread for rubbing out; a mouse has stolen into light, and hastily nibbles at the bread.

Many stories have been told of Landseer’s _bonhomie_ in general company, but probably the best was that Leslie related of a dinner-party at which the two friends met in Sir Francis Chantrey’s house. This meeting happened in one of the later years of the life of Sir Francis, some time before his death in 1841. This story is best related in Leslie’s words, and as follows, from “The Autobiography” of that artist:--“Edwin Landseer, the best of mimics, gave a capital specimen of Chantrey’s manner, and at Chantrey’s own table. Dining at his house with a large party, after the cloth was removed from the beautifully polished table,--Chantrey’s furniture was all beautiful,--Landseer’s attention was called by him to the reflections, in the table, of the company, furniture, lamps, &c. ‘Come and sit in my place and study perspective,’ said our host, and went himself to the fire. As soon as Landseer was seated in Chantrey’s chair, he turned round, and imitating his voice and manner, said to him, ‘Come, young man, you think yourself ornamental; now make yourself useful, and ring the bell.’ Chantrey did as he was desired; the butler appeared, and was perfectly bewildered at hearing his master’s voice, from the head of the table, order some claret, while he saw him standing before the fire.”

The “Roebuck and rough Hounds,” a picture of 1840, represented a broken hill-side, where a young deer has fallen from one of its ledges to a lower table of rock, where the dogs have found it, and now guard the spoil until the huntsmen come. There are four dogs; one behind the prone head of the prey has the vantage-ground for watching, and looks out with globe-like, glistening eyes. Lower is a rough deer-hound, lapping blood as it flows from the buck. In front, and at the foot, are the heads of the other dogs, one with a placid expression, the other expectant of a step. It is now at South Kensington.

Another work of this year was the famous “Laying down the Law.” The picture belongs to the Duke of Devonshire, and is too well known to need description here; suffice it that, in our opinion, it shows one of the best of Landseer’s designs of that class, by investing animals with human expressions and feelings; it is to be looked on less as an animal-picture proper than as a representation of human passions in animal forms. We must accept this non-natural characteristic, this artistic heresy, otherwise the work is naught; notwithstanding all possible objections, it is never less than a fascinating satire, one of those works which override principles by innate strength. In 1841 Sir Edwin did not contribute to the Academy.

In 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, and 1844, the Queen and Prince Albert amused themselves by etching certain designs by Landseer: impressions from these plates are very scarce. These transcripts are named in Mr. Algernon Graves’ catalogue of Sir Edwin’s works, p. 41.

“Otters and Salmon,” one of the pictures of 1842, shows the fruit of one of those visits to the Highlands which, since the tour was made with Leslie, were annual: it has been finely engraved by Mr. Gibbon. It exhibits a huge silver salmon lying on its flank, and a long-bodied, long-waisted, brown otter, cringing stealthily at the side of the fish, showing his teeth, and turning half round, snarling in the fashion of his kind. The year 1843 found the painter at work on the fresco for the garden-house at Buckingham Palace; it represents “The Defeat of Comus,” of which the sketch in oil was given to the nation by Mr. Jacob Bell. But to return to the otter. This proved the artist at work on a novel theme, which he made his own by the well-known “Otter speared” of 1844. So various had been the painter’s studies in sporting subjects,--including wild cattle, dogs of all kinds, horses of all sorts, fish, deer, ptarmigan, swans, rats, ducks, eagles, hawks, falcons, otters, to say nothing of lions; and huntsmen of all English ranks--that people naturally fancied Sir Edwin was a keen sportsman. Nevertheless, such was by no means the case; in truth, he often carried the gun as an introduction to the sketch-book.

This is proved by the story we obtain from a painter, who, while sketching in the Highlands, fell in with Ewen Cameron, an old forest-keeper of Glencoe, who for more than four-and-twenty years accompanied Landseer with the sketch-book and the gun; he had been with him from his first shooting excursion, and described the knight as but a poor shot at first, but one who improved as he grew older. He was, nevertheless, often laughed at. But one day Sir Edwin had the laugh at all the party, for, knowing that he was not the best of shots, they had deliberately posted him where the herd was not expected, “when,” as the old forester said, “it so happened that the greater number of the stags went his way, and he just made by far the biggest bag of the party;” in fact, “we found him surrounded with dead stags lying all about.”

On another occasion the gillies were astonished, just as a magnificent shot came in the way, to have Sir Edwin’s gun thrust into their hands, with “Here, take, take this,” hastily ejaculated, while the sketch-book was pulled out. The gillies were often disgusted by being led about the moors, walking with more sketching than shooting; and they grumbled dreadfully in their own tongue; “but,” said Ewen, “Sir Edwin must have had some Gaelic in him, for he was _that angry_ for the rest of the day, it made them very careful of speaking Gaelic in his hearing after.” “The last time he was here,” repeated the forester, referring to but a few years ago, “I could not but observe to him, ‘Sir Edwin, ye’re becoming like the ptarmigan,’” alluding to that bird’s turning white as the winter approaches.

Another picture of the year 1842 was the pathetic “Highland Shepherd’s Home,” which was engraved by Mr. Gibbon, and is very popular. This was at the Academy; but a not inferior picture, painted in the Highlands, is, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Home,” which was at the British Institution in that year, and is now comprised in the Sheepshanks Gift at South Kensington; it was bought by Mr. Sheepshanks from Landseer, A spaniel cowers at the entrance

[Illustration: _Goat and Kids._]

of his home in a quiver of glad recognition of the shelter; he looks up with a whimper, and gleefully wags his tail, for the beast has been a vagrant. In the foreground occurs one of those little points of by-play such as often occur in Landseer’s designs. Here a snail, who does not quit his home, but rather carries it on his back, is travelling slowly and noiselessly towards the water-dish of the spaniel.

In 1842 there likewise appeared, but at the Academy, the most dexterously painted “Pair of Brazilian Monkeys, the property of the Queen,” the dashing form of “Breeze,” a retriever, which has been engraved by Mr. C. G. Lewis, and the ever-beautiful figure of “Eos,” that model of grace, a greyhound belonging to Prince Albert, which Mr. T. Landseer engraved faultlessly. In this picture Sir Edwin must have been happy, for the grace, fulness of refinement, high feeling for beauty, and that defect of the animal which arose from over-civilization, were here, and he painted them perfectly. The very defect of his art suited the truth of the subject, and “Eos” in the engraving seems the finest example of the finest strain of Landseer’s art.

“The Sanctuary” was of this year, and akin in its inspiration to those which showed Landseer at work in snow and ice, with new subjects, and hardly ever tried by an artist of his standing. The latter are the admirable “Coming Events cast their Shadows before them,” of 1844, and “Night and Morning,” the noble designs of 1853. “The Sanctuary” illustrated the refuge of a long-hunted stag on an island, or on the coast of Loch Maree; the swimming beast approaches the shore, and perfectly represents the pathos of the verses:--

“See, where the startled wild-fowl screaming rise, And seek in marshall’d flight those golden skies; Yon wearied swimmer scarce can win the land, His limbs yet falter on the watery strand. Poor hunted hart! the painful struggle o’er, How blest the shelter of that island shore! There, whilst he sobs, his panting heart to rest, Nor hound nor hunter shall his lair molest.”

We all remember the water dripping from the flanks of the beast, the swerving line, a little too mechanically drawn, of the flying fowl, the even colour of the twilight sky, the gleaming of the water, a surface broken only by the track of the ripples the exhausted swimmer’s shoulders had set in motion. The picture belongs to the Queen, and was in the International Exhibition, 1862, and at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1853; and while there attracted much less attention than it deserved from the French, who demand qualities which Landseer did not always succeed in furnishing. We do not think it was on account of the pathos of this picture that the jury awarded him the great gold medal, he being the only English painter to receive it; many Englishmen desired that Mulready should obtain this distinction, and the award in Landseer’s favour puzzled many, because he was much less a painter _per se_ than Mulready, who expected a decision in the reverse direction.




A.D. 1843 TO A.D. 1850.


The pictures contributed to the Academy in 1843 were not very important: one was a scene in Windsor Castle, with portraits of Her Majesty, Prince Albert, the Princess Royal, and four of the Queen’s dogs; another was “Not caught yet”--a fox examining a trap.

Most visitors to the Academy, who recal “The Otter speared” of 1844, which appeared with “Coming Events cast their Shadows before them,” remember the profound impression caused by these works. The former is an “upright” picture, showing a huntsman standing to mid-leg in a stream, surrounded by a numerous pack of yelping dogs, while he, having driven his spear through the loins of the poor otter, raises that ignoble prey on high, in his last agonies, transfixed, writhing, biting the staff of the spear, and helplessly contorted in the air. The dogs follow their nature, and the man follows his; the otter will be thrown to the hounds, and torn to pieces. There is an immense amount of diverse action and intense passion in the dogs, who leap, yell, yelp, bark, struggle, bound, howl, and even fight each other in their fury for the prey. The design was admirable, but the execution of the picture was a little flat--a defect which strongly affected the public--the colour was cold, not improved by the introduction of the crude scarlet coat of the man in the centre without an effectual echo or compensating piece of colour. The flatness of the execution made the perspective of the group of dogs look incorrect, which was not really the case. The drawing of the dogs was worthy of Sir Edwin’s skill: they belonged to the Earl of Aberdeen.

“Coming Events cast their Shadows before them,” sometimes called “The Challenge,” and now in the collection of the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland, was another of the pictures of 1844. Although it has not appeared since its display at the Academy in this year, it is well known by means of engravings, and therefore the subject being as simple as it was effectively told, it will not be needful to describe it here.

“Shoeing,”[40] another picture of this year, was painted for Mr. Jacob Bell, and is now comprised in the Bell Gift in the National Gallery (No. 606). The scene is a forge, with its open door and anvil, and utensils lying about the place. A bay mare, a portrait of “Old Betty,” the property of Mr. Bell, stands near the anvil, while a farrier tries a new shoe on her near hind hoof, the other animals being an ass and a bloodhound, the name of which was “Laura;” these, like the figure of the man, are portraits. The painting of the mare is worthy of Landseer’s peculiar skill; her skin is glossiness itself, while the likeness is so completely faithful that she stands exactly as she was accustomed to appear “at ease,” and without a halter; the latter, Mr. Wornum told us, was an appendage the creature would never tolerate. Mrs. Mackenzie adds, that the mare was so fond of being shod that she would go of her own will to the farrier. Mr. Lewis engraved this picture three times, an extraordinary proof of its popularity.

In 1845 appeared a nameless work, signalized in the Academy catalogue as “141 * * *,” and now described as “The Shepherd’s Prayer,” which has been engraved by Mr. T. L. Atkinson.

The pictures “Peace” and “War,” both of 1846, now in the National Gallery, require only the briefest mention. The scene of the former is the summit of a high chalk cliff looking over Dover harbour--not too faithfully painted, by the way--with the calm blue sea, a little defective in clearness of colour, the whole lying in sunlight, as Sir Edwin was accustomed to paint that effect. A cannon has been tumbled from its place, and is here topsy-turvy on the grass; in its harmless muzzle a pretty lamb is grazing; other sheep and a few goats are browsing near; close by are three bright-faced, heedless children, the shepherds of the flock, one of whom has placed grass in the cannon’s mouth for the lamb. These elements complete the design, of which the idea is a little too melodramatic to be acceptable to critics, but it is most welcome to less fastidious judges. “War” is simpler still, and a design of less challengeable quality; there has been a battle, a cottage is in ruins, lurid smoke dashes the still sunny walls with shadows, the torn roses of the porch shine in the desolation, a dying horse and his dead rider, a dragoon in steel, and sword in hand, lie near the door; a dead horse and a second dead man lie close to the others.

“The Stag at Bay,” belonging to the Marquis of Breadalbane, which appeared in the same year, had a more energetic design than that of “War;” it is one of the strongest of Sir Edwin’s pictures, and well known by Mr. T. Landseer’s engraving. “The Drive,” produced in 1847, was a hunting-piece, representing the shooting of deer in a pass of Glenorchy Forest; it is the property of the Queen, and was engraved by Mr. T. Landseer.

At the same exhibition some readers remember the large but not very fortunate “Portrait of Mr. Van Amburgh, as he appeared with his animals at the London theatres.” Many years had passed since Sir Edwin had painted a “lion picture,” and his reputation was uninjured in that respect, although there were not lacking grumblers who averred that his earlier works far surpassed in artistic qualities the more attractive, more popular and, it must be admitted, far more poetical productions of his middle life. At this date our artist had hit the chords in popular feeling to which it would best suit him to appeal, and he did so vigorously and constantly; the chords were two--that of sad pathos and that of gentle, semi-human satire.

The pictures of 1848, to which we now turn, being “A random Shot” and “Alexander and Diogenes,” were apt illustrations of the concurrent powers of Landseer’s mind at the best. Technically speaking, he had lost prodigiously by this period; his works were not half so solid as when his spurs were won, but in the higher intellectual and imaginative qualities they now far surpassed their forerunners, notwithstanding occasional dashes of melodramatic taste. “Van Amburgh,” was injurious to the reputation of the painter. The works of the next year--1848--set this higher than ever.

In 1848 we were presented with “A random Shot,” one of the most pathetic and epical of Landseer’s works. It is a snow-piece, the scene high on the mountain, whose more distant ridges rise above the mist. The snow lies smooth; and for miles, so far as the eye can penetrate the vapour, there is nothing but snow, which covers, but does not hide, the shapes of the hill-tops. A few foot-prints show that a doe has come hither, attracted, doubtless, by her knowledge of a pool of unfrozen water which would assuage her thirst. Some careless shooter, firing into a herd of deer, had hit the doe whose fawn was with her, and, mortally wounded, she came to die; the poor fawn had followed. There the victim fell, there the innocent one strove, long after the mother’s form was cold, to obtain milk where an unfailing source had been. The mother has fallen on her side, the long limbs, that once went so swiftly, are useless, and the last breath of her nostrils has melted the snow, so that, stained with her blood, the water trickled downwards until it froze again.

This year was one of unusual good fortune for Sir Edwin’s admirers; two of his best pictures were exhibited, besides the beautiful “Old Cover Hack,” a horse standing with an air of being at home, at the door of a stable.

“Alexander and Diogenes,” another of the pictures of 1848, is well known; the big white bulldog Alexander pays a visit to the philosopher in his tub, personified by a dingy, meditative little beast in inferior condition of health and of poor belongings. He appears to be a farrier’s tyke, to judge by the box of nails, with its thumb-hole, and the hammer, which lie before the tub; and he is undoubtedly of abstemious habits, if we may judge by the “rope” of onions and the herbs suspended at the side of his place of shelter, and the potatoes which lie on the flag-stones. The big white bully, with his “military” collar, stands before the tub, and, regarding its cynical occupant askant, knits his brows--not a dog’s action, by-the-bye--at once inquiringly and with hauteur. The courtiers are commonplace; two are whining, with hypocritical mouths turned down, the one has upcast eyes, the other is self-absorbed in meditation, and with his eyes dreamily half-closed, occupies part of the background. A greyhound, of the gentler sex, whose collar is decorated with a hawk’s bell, and is herself a courtier, is courted by the sneaking little spaniel with the set smile on his lips, and adulatory eyes as lustrous as globes of glass. A contumelious spaniel of another breed is near, and, with nose upturned and scornful, looks at the more scornful and not less insincere cynic, who, with greater pride, tramples on the pride of Alexander. This year (1848) produced the “Sketch of my Father,” that capital portrait of John Landseer to which we have already alluded. In the same year appeared a series of etchings by C. G. Lewis, styled “The Mothers, by Edwin Landseer,” from drawings made in 1837. This publication was the last in which our artist had direct concern.

In 1848 Landseer received from the “Commissioners on the Fine Arts” a charge to paint in oil three subjects connected with the chase, for compartments of the Peers’ Refreshment Room in the Houses of Parliament; the absurdly inadequate price was not to be more than 500_l._ each. It is evident that Landseer accepted these tasks patriotically rather than in hope of profit. However, the matter came to nothing, for after a sharp debate, rather a skirmish than a fight, when this great sum of 1500_l._ was proposed as the national payment to a great artist for three important pictures, the House of Commons, piqued at the conduct of the scheme for decorating the Palace of Westminster, struck the sum from the estimates, and put an end to the affair; more to the artist’s profit than ours.

The pictures of 1849, although comprising “The Free Church” and “The Evening Scene in the Highlands,”

[Illustration: _Sow and Pigs._]

present no features which need detain us. It was at this period Landseer made his first visit to Belgium, to procure studies and sketches for the capital “Dialogue at Waterloo,” which appeared in 1850, and is now comprised in the Vernon Gift; it represents the Duke of Wellington and his daughter-in-law, the Marchioness of Douro, at the scene of “the famous victory.” This visit naturally attracted a great deal of attention from the Dutch and Belgian artists, who listened to strange stories of Landseer’s mode of painting, and his, to their notions, luxurious mode of life; that he went out into the woods near the place of his sojourn, Brussels, accompanied by a man servant, and made careful studies on millboard, was not so surprising to our neighbours as that he was reported to regale himself with champagne. It had been the artist’s custom during the greater part of his life, especially during that period which has now been described, to make his studies on millboards of a generally uniform size; great numbers of works of this size exist, and their artistic qualities are of a high order. The sale of his artistic remains brought to light numerous millboard studies, including first thoughts for not a few of Landseer’s finest designs, studies for pictures, and bold versions of thoughts which were never elaborated into pictures, or placed before the world. These studies realized a considerable sum, and thus increased the handsome fortune which he obtained by means of a long life’s labours.

* * * * *

In 1850 Edwin Landseer was made a knight.



A.D. 1851 TO A.D. 1861.


“The Monarch of the Glen,” exhibited in 1851, was a stag, executed with vigour and soundness of modelling, which recalled some of the finest works of the artist.[1] The group styled “Geneva,” which appeared with this, was a large painting of several asses, a bull, a mule, &c., gathered under an arch. The head of the mule struck us as the best part, where all portions were worthy of the painter. “The last Run of the Season” showed a fox leaving his earth; the texture of the beast’s hide was rendered with dexterity, and the head characterized the painter’s peculiar craft in such subjects, but there was not enough of the “varmint” in its expression.

“Titania and Bottom--Fairies attending,” was a happy specimen of Sir Edwin’s poetical invention, and one of the most agreeable pictures which illustrate Shakespeare. The graceful nature of the Queen of the Fairies was shown in Titania, whose figure expresses the love-languor of her absurd dream; she leans with a confiding caress against the most complacent Bottom, who extends his huge paw to handle a fairy. The head of Titania is decorated with a diadem of leaves and glow-worms. Fairies mounted on white rabbits add quaintness to the whole. “A Highlander in a Snow-storm, holding an Eagle he has just shot,” and “Lassie,” were summer and winter scenes which effectively contrast each other. These concluded the pictures of 1851. The year 1852 gave us nothing of immediate profit, but the year after made ample amends.

What one may call the progress of ultra-facility, the decline of Sir Edwin’s power of solid painting, was illustrated by the pictures of 1853, being the dramatic designs--they were little more--styled “The Combat,” and, severally, “Night” and “Morning,” the subjects being a duel of stags, and the ruin of both. The pictures were at the Academy, and, later, at the International Exhibition of 1862. The contrasted effects were those of, 1, romantic gloom, much less than twilight, with a dim moon, with screens of rain flying by a tumultuous lake, and, 2, dawn growing rosier as the day grows over the fields; the subject of the death struggle, and of death. In the one picture the beasts were fighting, with such intensity of action as no one but Landseer could have given, so that they are “locked horn in horn in fight.” The second picture shows the combatants still locked together by their horns--indeed it was this which decided their fate; they are both dead on the hill-side, the day has come, the gusty night winds are hushed and the lake is a mirror again; growing light reveals the outlines of the hills, grey mist creeps on the strand, the bird of prey wheels in the air above the dead, and the fox has come from his lair in the rotting fern; the royal dead are carrion prey. Here is a moral forcibly depicted, on which we need not enlarge. The pictures belong to Viscount Hardinge, and have been engraved by Mr. T. Landseer, to whom not a little is due on their account, for it is certain that the magnificent design lost little in translation, and that the picture was not pre-eminent. “The Children of the Mist,” a group of deer on a cloud-laden moor, was exhibited with these more powerful examples which we have just described.

Whatever may be the defects of the Royal Academy as a society--and most of these are, we trust, in the course of correction--there can be no doubt that collectively it has done many fine things; the members have often acted in a noble manner; the number of instances of sacrifice of cherished advantages to fellows or rivals is considerable, and the story has been told of many Academicians who have taken their own pictures from the walls in order to place those of others in good situations. We believe it was about 1853, or it might have been at an earlier date, that Sir Edwin was one of the Hanging Committee for the Royal Academy Exhibition; it does not signify who was his fellow, but it is certain that he was a landscape painter, and therefore no rival of M. Gudin, an animal painter. Sir Edwin found among the contributions which had been set aside as “doubtful,”--_i.e._ its chance of being hung was but a poor one,--a work which pleased him greatly, but which had no artist’s name. Taking it to his fellow-hanger, Sir Edwin found that both agreed as to its merits, and that it ought to be hung, and well hung. The difficulty was where to put it; at last the other hanger found that a place accorded to a painting of his would suit this one extremely well, he therefore took down his own and put M. Gudin’s production in its stead. Thus the animal painter found an animal painter’s work, and was the means of inducing a considerable sacrifice in order that it might be seen. It may be asked, why did not Sir Edwin take down one of his own paintings instead of allowing his companion to do so? The answer is, that it is possible that Sir Edwin had no pictures at that gathering; or it is still more probable that M. Gudin’s contribution would not fit one of the places occupied by Landseer. We have an impression that Sir Edwin’s generous companion was W. Daniell, R.A., in which case this circumstance must have happened long before 1853; but this date has been given as that of the circumstance.

The year 1854 was not one of those in which Sir Edwin’s powers shone at the Exhibition; in 1855 he gave nothing; in 1856 he contributed the capital “Saved!”--a fine picture, good enough to have made the reputation of another artist--to the Royal Academy. In 1857 we had the grandest stag which came from his hands, being “Scene in Brae-mar--Highland Deer, &c.,” a magnificent stag, standing in the mist, but not concealed by the vapour, and on the brow of a hill, bellowing defiance to the hunter or to other males of his own kind; a group of does are about him; a rabbit appears on the grass. The stag is superbly drawn, and his action instinct with pride. “Rough and Ready” was of this year; a portrait of a favourite mare, in the yard of her stable. The humour of the picture, one of those capital pieces of by-play which none introduced more happily than Landseer, was presented by the passionate emotion of a hen, who, having just laid an egg, calls all the world to witness the fact. “Rough and Ready” turns a questioning eye on the bird, but is not deeply moved by the event; indeed she looks a little bored by the uproarious mother-bird. This was a good example; but “Uncle Tom and his Wife for sale,” which accompanied it at the Academy, showed that Landseer had occupied some of his time during the years before this one in reading a now almost-forgotten United States novel. “Uncle Tom” is a dog of humble breeding and sturdy constitution; he has been brought to the market for sale, and is chained to his wife, for whom a similar fate is purposed. The best part of the picture was the tearful look of the wife at the dog of her heart. This was a masterpiece wherein Sir Edwin often triumphed--the humanizing of animal expression, or rather, the animalization of human expression.

“The Maid and the Magpie,” given by Mr. Bell to the nation, with better pictures, is, however, by no means unworthy of Landseer. The scene is a shed, where a pretty Belgian girl, with a gay red cap on her head, has come a-milking; the cow is willing, and turns with affectionate docility to her friend; but the girl, whose expression is happy, is ardently listening to her lover, who, leaning against a post, sighing and longing, speaks to her. Thus far she neglects her immediate duties. She is supposed to get into further trouble, because, having placed a silver spoon in one of the wooden shoes at her side, she did not observe how a malicious magpie pilfered the treasure, which, being missed, cause her to suffer grievously. The story belongs to that of Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra,” with an older source, as Mr. Wornum said, in the French _Causes Célèbres_. A calf and some goats were Landseerian, one cannot have a better word.

The most remarkable work which Landseer had for some years exhibited was the immense cartoon styled “Deer Browsing.” It is in coloured chalks, black, red, and white, used in a manner analogous to that which Mulready employed for his famous studies from “the life,” and it represented a herd of deer grazing, while hunters have stolen on them from the heights of the mountains, and prepare to fire from behind rocks. A royal stag browses unsuspiciously; but two does have detected the intruders, and, looking up with startled air and erected ears, are about to take to their heels. In the same year we found at the British Institution, to which gathering Sir Edwin had not then contributed for a considerable period, the humorous and characteristic “Twa Dogs,” an illustration of Burns’ poem with the same name. The gentlemanly dog, “they ca’d him Cæsar,”[41] had all the marks of his education about him; not only in “his lockit, letter’d, braw brass collar,” but in the gravity and cleared-eyed dignity of his face, which is wonderfully represented. The other dog, “that gash and faithful tyke,” is evidently for rougher service; and if not so much to be admired, is perhaps to be liked more. There is not the slightest doubt that

“His honest, sonsie, braws’nt face Ay got him friends in ilka place.

In the same exhibition appeared the portrait of Sir Walter Scott to which we have referred, styled “Extract from a Journal whilst at Abbotsford.” The poet sits laughing at the gambols of his dogs. Maida, the old deer-hound, famous in his master’s verses, is looking with “inane benevolence,” the humour of which is exquisite, on a little puppy on the floor; the little dog nibbles his senior’s tail. At their side is a letter directed to Sir Walter. In this, as the catalogue lets us infer, a proof of one of the Waverley novels had been received. By means of this, Landseer was convinced that the authorship of those novels was, as many suspected, due to Scott. This was, relatively, not a good picture. As a sketch of canine character and a dexterous piece of painting it had great merits; but the story was incomprehensible without the catalogue. In this respect it was less explicable at sight than “The Maid and the Magpie;” for the latter might be taken for no more than it really was, a picture of lovers gossiping, and the incident of the magpie and the spoon ignored.

“Doubtful Crumbs,” at the Academy in 1859, was hardly equal to its origin; a mastiff lolls at the door of his kennel, and a smaller dog looks anxiously for permission to pick up scraps. The picture, with a title in Highland jargon, in the catalogue of the Royal Academy Exhibition of this year, displayed how a hunted stag escaped two dogs by taking to the water. One of the dogs is hurt to death; the other is about to leave the stag. It was finely and vigorously designed, not less slight than of late from the painter. “The Prize Calf” showed, with a slight touch of humour, a frightened girl leading a calf through a mountain pass. “A kind Star” illustrated a Highland superstition, but in such a manner as proved that the designer’s mind was not in its usual fine tone when it was conceived. The superstition is that hinds are under the protection of beneficent stars: a hind lies dying on the banks of a lake. So far nothing could be said; but the introduction of a spirit, with a star in its hair, to bend over the poor beast, was of quite another order of invention. The production of this idea was the first decided sign of decay in the powers of our artist. Those who owed him much delight stood aghast before it. Some of these tried to ascribe its exhibition, and even its production, to obedience to some unfrequent impulse--deference to some inferior mind, subservience to some vulgar taste. However this might be, there, unfortunately, it was.

The year 1860 put the artist before us as effectively as before, and gave what is probably the strongest of all his pictures, the “Flood in the Highlands,” as to which I cannot do better than borrow from the “Athenæum” of the time the following description, which has the freshest impression because I wrote it on the day when, in the well-known St. John’s Wood studio, and before the picture was sent to the Royal Academy, Mr. Millais introduced me to Sir Edwin Landseer:--“By right of seniority let Landseer come first. His subject is a flood in the Highlands, one of those catastrophes to which villages situated in gorges of a mountain country are exposed by the sudden melting of snow on the hills, or heavy falls of rain, which, swelling the little rivulets, often overwhelm a valley-hamlet at a sweep. The great flood, rushing from the hill-side, rages through the street; up to the very thresholds of the houses it pours along, a torrent irregular and resistless. Behind the village a range of low hillocks bear a few scanty trees, in the boughs of which some black birds have taken refuge, telling the wide extent of the inundation. The water has drowned the adjacent country, bearing along with it multitudes of farming implements and the _débris_ of the swept district. The inhabitants have taken refuge on the roofs of their cottages. Upon one, in the mid-distance, are men urgently endeavouring to save a team, which, borne onwards by the torrent, struggles relentlessly against its force, and, mad with fear, nigh baffles the efforts of the rescuers, straining to the utmost a rope held by them, whose entire strength fails to check the terrified animals that have already been swept past

[Illustration: _Sheep and Lambs._]

the place of safety, and come driving full on to another cottage, nearer the front of the picture; an exhausted ox has reached this spot, and now, breathless, with bloody nostrils and eyes possessed with the madness of fear, strives in vain to save itself. The dumb agony of this beast is fearful; being nigh spent with the violence of the flood which sweeps over its flanks, the forefeet wrestle fruitlessly, and the animal will soon be borne away to destruction. The principal group, in which the chief interest of the picture concentrates, is placed on the roof of the nearest cottage. The people have saved themselves, but little else, so sudden was the coming of the flood. Right in the front sits a woman with a cradle beside her, of which the clothes are tossed aside, and the infant who occupies it lies in her lap; round her neck the child clings, ignorant, but yet alarmed. The woman’s action tells the horror and fear predominating in her soul. Fear for herself and fear for the infant relax even her grasp on its body, letting it rest almost wholly on her knees (the hands, however, instinctively making a guard), which terror has drawn up towards her; while, with forth-thrust neck and head, she glares at the approaching torrent out of large, rounded and dilated eyes, that have no glance for the infant now, but see in the struggling beast a presage of death for both. Her jaw is set back, paralyzed with dread; her mouth is open, the lips are retracted and hard, the eyebrows are up and yet compressed, the cheek pallid and rigid with lines of fear, her hair is dishevelled and her dress is disarranged. In short, this figure is a perfect study of expression, the success of which does honour to the artist. He has done well to show her momentary indifference to the child; for this is a new point of character, beyond question just and natural, which alone would remove the picture from the conventional order of works of Art.

“Behind this group sits an aged man, half imbecile, and scarcely recognizing the danger which threatens his family; but, with his dress drawn about him, keeping steadfastly in the seat where their heedful affection has placed him. Beyond, squats a boy, wrapped in a plaid wet from the flood, and caressing a dog he has rescued from the water, and now holds it, shivering, in his bosom. On a ladder raised against the side of the house, by which the people have ascended to the roof, are perched some poultry, fussily alarmed at the distress about them; a hen--as is the wont of such creatures when terrified--has laid an egg, which, falling on a step below her perch, much astonishes a cat that has established herself there, and now rises to examine the phenomenon. Here is a point some hypercritical people will get hold of. The egg is broken by the fall, the shell being hard and set. No egg is otherwise than soft at this moment of exclusion, these critics will say. Let us leave them their discovery, and proceed to point out an incident of the design that marks the genius of the artist. Close under the eaves of the house, and just emerging from the water, is a poor hare, endeavouring to burrow a way into the thatch, with struggling feet and ears laid back; the flood has brought this timorous beast into the neighbourhood of man, and it is pitiful to see its frantic efforts to make a place of refuge in the very habitation of its enemies. Above, grey wreaths of rain-clouds haste along, and the whole aspect of the picture bespeaks terror and desolation. The very fault of its execution aids this appearance, for the want of appreciation of colour, which is alone to be lamented, helps the motive of the theme by a certain chilly opacity. This, under another aspect, would seriously mar the credit of so marvellous a work. Sir Edwin has done his best in the picture, and the result of many years’ study shows how profitably they have been employed in ensuring him fresh honour.”

So far the critic, and present writer, sees no reason for changing his opinion of this masterpiece of Sir Edwin’s. If it was not his finest work, it was at any rate his culminating one; he painted none so good afterwards--indeed, even before it was finished, the painter, always a man of extreme nervous susceptibility, had hints that the human mind and the body which surrounded it are mortal. He was constitutionally subject to nervous depression, but these attacks accumulated force as years went on, and threatened the end which came with all its painfulness.

I remember him, during the painting of this picture, on the Tuesday before it was sent to the Academy--putting a few touches on the canvas. He looked as if about to become old, although his age by no means justified the notion; it was not that he had lost activity or energy, or that his form had shrunk, for he moved as firmly and swiftly as ever, indeed he was rather demonstrative, stepping on and off the platform in his studio with needless display, and his form was stout and well-filled. Nevertheless, without seeming to be overworked, he did not look robust, and he had a nervous way remarkable in so distinguished a man, one who was usually by no means unconscious of himself, and yet, to those he liked, full of kindness. The wide green shade which he wore above his eyes, projected straight from his forehead, and cast a large shadow on his plump, somewhat livid features, and in the shadow one saw that his eyes had suffered. The grey “Tweed” suit, and its sober trim, a little emphatically “quiet,” marked the man; so did his stout, not fat nor robust, figure; rapid movements, and utterances that glistened with prompt remarks, sharp, concise, with quick humour, but not seeking occasions for wit, and imbued throughout with a perfect frankness, distinguished the man. Even in 1867 there was little outward change, although not long after that date the attacks occurred with fewer and briefer intervals. These intervals caused the reports which flew about, “Sir Edwin is better,” “much better,” as some would have it, and, anon, “much worse,” as many said.

After the “Flood in the Highlands” had set Landseer’s reputation on a basis which was apparently firmer than ever, he produced pictures of value, even judging them by the standard proper to our estimate. In 1861 we had “The Shrew tamed”--“_la jument domptée_” of its French admirers, in 1867--a riding-mistress, who, having overcome a vicious thoroughbred mare, (for, this picture echoed the wandering voices of the hour, and “horse-tamers” were then in vogue) has made the beast lie on straw, and triumphantly reclines her own head on the mare’s flank, as the dame, supine and smiling, rests beside the steed, while the latter gently and obediently caresses her hand; the former, conscious of her victory, pats the animal’s head. The horse is exquisitely faithful in the handling, the glossy muscle-binding hide is all a-shine with health and horsehood; her powerful hoofs; her eye of fire, subdued but not depressed, and full of vigour; the strong, unmastered neck, that turns gracefully in its vigour towards the slender lady resting among the dreadful feet, as if there were no more harm in them than in her own, that peep daintily beneath the blue riding-robe. Among the straw, and painted as only Landseer could paint lapdogs, was a saucy little beast of that kind. Besides this very telling picture, Sir Edwin contributed three large cartoons in distemper, a triptych of “stag subjects.” In the centre was “The fatal Duel,” two mighty stags that have been fighting to the very death: here was an echo of a former picture, the noble notion again worked out. They lie in the snow on a mountain side, the surface of which, crisped by frigid winds after a thaw, was given with power and truth. One stag, wounded to the death, is prostrate, and dying on the ensanguined snow, while the torn and bleeding fragment of a horn attests the stubbornness of his defence. Over him the conqueror, with gory flank and limbs, bellows victory to the mountain side. The wings of the triptych are styled, “Scenes in the Marquis of Breadalbane’s Highland Deer Forest;” the first, stags and hinds traversing snow-covered hills; the second, a similar subject in mist. All these were capitally drawn and designed.[42]



A.D. 1862 TO A.D. 1873.


The years 1862 and 1863 were, so far as the Exhibitions were concerned, significantly void of the fruits of Sir Edwin’s art. But 1864 brought good news and good work again; and we all rejoiced over the vigour which was apparent in “Man proposes, God disposes,” an Arctic incident suggested by the finding of the relics of Sir John Franklin. The scene is a piece of rugged ice, the coast-line of that remote land, broken by inlets of dark water. Over all is the greenish light of an Arctic noon; a purple veil of mist is drawn aside, as if a secret were displayed, and in order that we might see what had become of our long-lost countrymen. The veil gone, the rose tints of sunlight fall on the nearest and the highest points of rock-like ice, while light itself penetrates the sea-green blocks, and lurid shadows appear among the masses that strew the shore. Right across the front lies the mast of a boat, covered with brine as hard as a stone, and with a hoary fringe of icicles. A rag of tarpaulin--that may at one time have been the roof of a hut formed amongst the angular blocks--lies over this spar. Beneath this spar are a few planks, bleached in the long frost; and from below them peer a few bones--the rib bones of a man; above these lies a coat of navy blue. A huge white bear, her head on high, holds between cruel jaws a whitened bone. At the other side of the picture, and at the back of the so-called hut, sprawls the formless bulk of a larger bear, whose flattened head is laid along the ice, dragging between its jaws and from beneath the spar the ragged length of a piece of bunting, part of a Union Jack. This work now belongs to Mr. E. V. Coleman. With this painful picture we received that charming piece of manual dexterity, and keenest feeling for animal character, “A Piper and a Pair of Nutcrackers,” a bullfinch perched on a bough, just above the seat of a pair of squirrels. It is now in the possession of Mr. C. Booth.

At the British Institution for this year (1864) we had “Well-bred Sitters, that never say they are bored,” a large painting of dogs, produced with all Sir Edwin’s dexterity although, it may be, not showing all his soundness of drawing, or that finish in which, of yore, he delighted. An enormous black dog sits, as if before an artist, a model of dignity and self-possession; in his mouth is a badger-hair brush, such as painters style a “softener.” By his side a fawn-coloured dog is posed with great elegance. In the foreground are several dead doves, a pheasant, a purple velvet cigar-case, the colour of which serves as a chromatic echo to that of the pheasant’s neck. This was a vigorous picture, showing all we were accustomed to find in Sir Edwin’s later works.

The most interesting, if not the best, picture of 1865 by Landseer was his own portrait, styled “The Connoisseurs,” a humorous piece, comprising portraits of two dogs, who look appreciatively over his shoulder while he makes a drawing. “The flesh painting is too white as well as pinky to be true to nature, opaque and rather coarse, but the dogs who look over his shoulder at the sketch he is making, supply the title to the picture. Canine meditation and the result on a dog’s face of critical habits were never even thought of before, much less ever painted, as they are here. The dog on our right will not, it seems, give a hasty verdict in favour of his master’s work, that on our left will, like other critics, follow his neighbour. If anything could justify a man’s wish to be a dog it would be that Sir Edwin might paint him. What a gentle dog is he on our right!” “Déjeûner à la Fourchette,” a donkey feeding, a boy near, was not a fortunate picture. “Adversity” and “Prosperity” had contrasted subjects in the life of a horse. In the latter we had a superbly elegant bay horse; his hide has an inner glow such as would delight Titian to paint it; he sniffs the air gladly and looks from on high far off; his limbs are perfectly formed, and his body is a model for a Greek sculptor, and although too small in proportion for the body, his head is elegant. By his side is a dandy groom, the least satisfactory part of the picture. “Adversity” gives the other side of the same medal. A cab-horse in a low inn-yard sniffs wearily a mass of corn that is locked up; the shabby collar of servitude is about his neck, and, worse than all, has rubbed to bleeding some of that golden bay skin, which, a little too perfectly it may be, remains to the poor beast of all his beauty, pride, and delight in life; he sniffs in vain, almost afraid to go too near the locked food, and feebly, apologetically, paws the stones with worn hoofs. The artist never told a tale better than by these pictures, and probably never painted a horse’s hide better than that of the youthful model. These works were sold with Mr. Albert Grant’s pictures, April 28, 1877; the former for £1480, the latter for £1501.

The next year, 1866, produced the unfortunate “Lady Godiva’s Prayer;” the finely painted white “Mare and Foal” lying on the grass by the side of an Indian tent; “Odds and Ends, a Trophy for a Hall,” a collection of bucks heads, hunting weapons, &c., grouped with three living dogs, an unlucky grouping. There was likewise a large cartoon, recalling the triptych we have described, and showing a stag rushing at full speed, and followed hard by a great hound, both full of action. In this year Sir Edwin made his first appearance as a sculptor with the vigorous “Stag at Bay,” the fruit of practice of which the then long-delayed Lions for Trafalgar Square were expected to have the benefit. “Wild Cattle at Chillingham Park, Northumberland,” one of the pictures of 1867, gave a fine painting of a magnificent bull, companied by a cow and a calf, standing among heather and rocks. This and a companion picture, “Deer in Chillingham Park,” were destined for a chamber at Chillingham Castle, the seat of the Earl of Tankerville.

In January of this year the Lions were placed in Trafalgar Square: they had been commissioned from Sir Edwin Landseer so long before as 1859. They have monumental poses, with by no means wholly fortunate realistic execution. Their attitudes are undeniably grand, the surface treatment of each figure is excellent; but the incongruity of the two characteristics is injurious to examples of architectonic art. This may be admitted by those who have recognized in the statues from the pediments of the Parthenon, similar characteristics combined in works which, like the Lions, were intended for architectonic service.

The pictures of 1868 do not call for any particular mention. On the other hand, there was one in the Academy in 1869 which recalled to our minds all the artist’s power. This was entitled “The Swannery invaded by Sea-Eagles,” and came a great deal nearer to Snyders’s manner than any Landseer had produced for many years; indeed, since youth had ceased with him he rarely worked with so much solidity, firmness, and with such skill as in that which we think his last noble picture. It shows a group of swans’ nests near the mouth of a mountain river. “From the hills that overlook the ocean, the fierce brown birds have descended on the white brood, and attacked them with beaks and claws. One has a big wader by the throat, and just below the bill that vainly bites his thigh, while with a yellow dreadful claw he tears the downy breast of the victim, so that the red blood streams over it, dashing the plumage of snow to the black foot-webs themselves, which vainly quiver on the ground. Yet the swan fights well, and delivers smashing blows with his wings at his tyrant. The effect of this mode of defiance is seen on the body of another eagle, which, with the ravenous yelp of his kind, returns to the attack on a second swan, and will certainly get the best of it. Already dead between her still fighting fellows, a third swan lies prone, with a grey cygnet beside her. In the air above the nest, other swans flutter away, but in vain, for other eagles are there to destroy the last of those who built near the robbers. The design of the picture may be thus explained, but it would be hard to illustrate the painting of the plumage, or the largeness of the style which pervades this, one of the best painted of Sir Edwin’s works. It belongs to Lord Northampton.

With this noble painting Sir Edwin’s artistic biography, his _auto-biography_, may well be closed. Succeeding works added nothing to our knowledge of his skill, nor were they calculated to illustrate his genius more fortunately than those which have been enumerated and described.

An exceptional painting may fitly have place here; it is described by a correspondent to the “Athenæum,” No. 2396: “To your list of distinguished English artists who have practised scene painting, should be added the name of Sir Edwin Landseer. I have myself seen, in the theatre at Woburn Abbey, a scene painted by him. In the time of the late John, Duke of Bedford, private theatricals were much in vogue at Woburn, and Sir Edwin was then a frequent and honoured visitor, and on one of these occasions he painted the scene in question, which represents the interior of a room, opening in the centre on to a terrace or balcony. In the doorway stands a lady’s dog, marvellously touched, in a listening attitude, with one of the fore-paws uplifted, exhibiting, in a striking degree, all the artist’s wondrous power, even in the coarse and hasty manner incidental to a scene-painter’s art.--H.B.”

* * * * *

A few notes of the prices said to have been obtained for some of the artist’s works may not be unwelcome to the reader, especially as these will show how greatly they increased in value as popular applause justified his labours, and did honour to his achievements. We believe the sums named are substantially correct, but, of course, cannot verify every statement.

In 1831 Edwin Landseer conveyed the copyrights of “Lassie and Sheep,” and “The Widow,” to John Burnet for 150 guineas. In 1850 Sir I. K. Brunel gave £450 for “Scene from a Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was sold with his pictures, April 21, 1860, for £2800. Mr. Pender gave £3500 for each of the pair of pictures by Sir Edwin, which were in his collection. Mr. Coleman gave the artist £2500 for “Man proposes, God disposes;” Mr. Huth gave him 1000 guineas for “A Piper and a Pair of Nutcrackers.” The painter received £400 for “Bolton Abbey,” £100 for “A Cat’s Paw;” Mr. Vernon gave him £1500 for “Peace” and “War.” For the copyright of these the publisher of the engravings gave, it is said, £3000. £3600 is said to have been paid for the copyright of “A Dialogue at Waterloo.” “The waiting Horse” cost £2500. The four pictures at the Academy in 1846, _i.e._ “Peace,” “War,” “The Stag at Bay,” and “Refreshment,” cost, it is said, for copyright and engraving, at least £10,000. “The tired Reaper,” which measures 14 × 10 inches, was sold in 1858 for 200 guineas. In August, 1860, on the dispersion of Mr. Houldsworth’s collection at Glasgow, “Uncle Tom and his Wife” sold for £800. In 1861 this picture obtained no higher bidding than £590. “A Study of a white Horse,” given by Landseer to Leslie, sold at the latter’s sale for 44 guineas; “A Goat’s Head,” for 240 guineas. In April, 1860, “The Stone-breaker’s Daughter” was sold, with the Redleaf Collection, for 1000 guineas; and a “Portrait of Lord Alexander Russell” for 825 guineas. At Mr. Windus’s sale, March, 1859, Lord Ward bought “A River Scene,” which has not been exhibited, for 440 guineas; “The Sentinel” was sold for £126, in 1861. The sale of Mr. Gillott’s Collection, April, 1872, comprised several works by Landseer; the prices obtained for these are interesting to us; for examples, take “A Landscape,” with a monk proceeding to a cell, an illustration to one of Scott’s novels, £183; “A View in Scotland, with a ruined Abbey,” £110; “Waiting for the Deer to rise,” £1412; “Mount St. Bernard Dogs,” £1827; the “Pointers, To Ho!” (exhibited in 1821) obtained the enormously disproportioned price of £2016. “The Otter Hunt,” 1844, painted for Lord Aberdeen, was sold with Mr. Albert Grant’s pictures, April 28, 1877, for £5932 (?).

Landseer’s “remaining works” were sold by Messrs. Christie, Manson, and Woods, May 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15, 1874. On this occasion “Lady Godiva’s Prayer,” 1866, sold for £3360.

It was amusing to read the lamentations of an “able editor” at the time of the selling of “Peace” and “War.” There was a gentleman of this class who expressed his horror and wrath at the facts in question, and stated himself to be in dread lest Sir Edwin’s success would swallow up all other art, and he declared it to be gravely injurious, as tending to “lock up” the capital of publishers of prints!

It is necessary to add here that most of Landseer’s earlier pictures, show deterioration; others, among which “Bolton Abbey” has prominence, are in a deplorable condition. Extensive cracking, or parting of the outer layer of pigments into what resemble irregular tesseræ, is the common defect. In a less degree Wilkie’s works have suffered in the same manner, and show, notwithstanding repairs, too obvious signs of crack.

* * * * *

With this our subject is exhausted. Further, as to the honours won by Sir Edwin Landseer, and to enumerate them at once: he was knighted in 1850, and received the large gold medal from the authorities of the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1853, being the only English artist who was so distinguished. He declined the Presidency of the Royal Academy when the death of Sir Charles Eastlake and the modesty of Mr. Maclise--who would not receive an honour he merited--induced most of the artists to beg Landseer’s acceptance of the dignity. When Eastlake was elected on the death of Shee, Edwin Landseer had one vote given in his favour as President of the Royal Academy, Mr. George Jones obtained two votes, Eastlake twenty-six.

* * * * *

The closing years of Sir Edwin’s long, otherwise not unhappy, and generally laborious life were darkened in the manner we have already indicated rather than described. He died on the morning of the 1st of October, 1873, and on the 11th of the same month was buried in St Paul’s with full honours.




1809} Drawings and Etchings made before Edwin Landseer was to } thirteen years of age 20-28 1814}

1815. Portrait of a Mule 29 Portraits of a Pointer Bitch and Puppy 29

1817. Portrait of “Brutus” 41 Portrait of an Alpine Mastiff 42

1818. Fighting Dogs getting Wind 42 Portrait of a Donkey 44 White Horse in a Stable 44

1819. The Cat disturbed 47

1820. Alpine Mastiffs re-animating a distressed Traveller 47 A Lion disturbed at his Repast 48 A Lion enjoying his Repast 48

1821. Seizure of a Boar 48 A prowling Lion 48 The Ratcatchers 48 Pointers To-ho! 50

1822. The Larder invaded 51 The watchful Sentinel 51

1824. Neptune 52 The Cat’s Paw 52

1825. Taking a Buck 55-59 The Widow 55 The Poacher 55 Portrait of Lord Cosmo Russell 59

1826. The Dog and the Shadow 59 The Hunting of Chevy Chase 55-60

1827. The Chief’s Return from Deer-stalking 61 The Monkey who had seen the World 61 Scene at Abbotsford 62

1829. The illicit Whisky-still in the Highlands 62 A Fireside Party 62

1830. The Stone-breaker’s Daughter 68

1831. High Life 63 Low Life 63 Waiting for the Deer to rise. (Poachers Deer-stalking) 63-69 Too Hot 63

1832. A Lassie herding Sheep 63 Spaniels of King Charles’s breed 64 Hawking 69 Waiting for the Countess 69

1833. The Harvest in the Highlands 69 Jack in Office 69

1834. The Naughty Boy 70 Suspense 72 Highland Shepherd-dog rescuing a sheep from a snowdrift 72 Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time 72 A Highland Breakfast 74

1835. The Drover’s departure 74 A Sleeping Bloodhound 75

1836. Comical Dogs 76 Odin 76

1837. The Highland Shepherd’s Chief Mourner 77 The Shepherd’s Grave 77

1838. Portraits of the Marquis of Stafford and Lady Evelyn Gower 78 The Life’s in the old Dog yet 78 A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society 79

1839. Dignity and Impudence 79 Van Amburgh and his Animals 80

1840. The Lion-dog of Malta 81 Roebuck and rough Hounds 82 Laying down the Law 82

1842. Otters and Salmon 83 The Highland Shepherd’s Home 84 Eos 85 Pair of Brazilian Monkeys 85 Breeze 85

1843. The Defeat of Comus 83-85 Not Caught yet 87 The Sanctuary 85

1844. Otter Speared 83

1844. Shoeing 88 Coming Events cast their Shadows before them; or, the Challenge 85-88

1845. The Shepherd’s Prayer 89

1846. Peace, War 89 The Stag at bay 90

1847. The Drive 90 Portrait of Van Amburgh 90

1848. A random Shot 90 Alexander and Diogenes 90 Old Cover Hack 91 Sketch of my Father 92

1849. The Free Church 92 Evening Scene in the Highlands 92

1850. Dialogue at Waterloo 93

1851. The Monarch of the Glen 94 Geneva 94 The last Run of the Season 94 Titania and Bottom 94 A Highlander in a Snowstorm 95 Lassie 95

1853. The Combat 95 Night 95 Morning 95 The Children of the Mist 95

1856. Saved 97

1857. Scene in Brae-mar 97 Rough and Ready 97 Uncle Tom and his Wife for Sale 97 The Maid and the Magpie 97 Deer browsing 98 Twa Dogs 98 Portrait of Sir Walter Scott 99

1859. Doubtful Crumbs 99 A kind Star 99 The Prize Calf 99

1860. Flood in the Highlands 100

1861. The Shrew tamed 103 The Fatal Duel 104 Scenes in the Marquis of Breadalbane’s Highland Deer Forest 104

1864. Man proposes, God disposes 105

1864. A Piper and a pair of Nutcrackers 106 Well-bred Sitters 106 The Connoisseurs 106 Déjeûner à la Fourchette 107 Adversity 107 Prosperity 107

1866. Lady Godiva’s Prayer 107 Mare and Foal 107 Odds and Ends 107

1867. Wild Cattle at Chillingham Park 108

1869. A Swannery invaded by Sea Eagles 108


Bell, Mr. Jacob, 56, 75

Boydell’s Shakespeare, 5

Byrne, William, 2

Christmas, Mr. T., 46

Cust, Sir Edward (letter from), 24

Fuseli, 42

Haydon, 32

Hayter, J., 30

Hunt, W. H., 19

Landseer, Charles, 14

“ John, 2-12

“ Thomas, 4, 13

Leslie, C. R., 30, 65

Lewis, C. G., 54

Macklin’s Bible, 6

Mackenzie, Mrs., 18, 59, 68

Meteyard, Eliza, 17

Potts, Miss, 6

Raphael’s Cartoons, 45

Redgrave, Mr. R. (Crit. &c.), 65, 72

Romilly, Peter, 1

“ Sir Samuel, 1

Ruskin, Mr. (Criticisms), 63, 73, 77, 88

Simpson, Mr. W. W. (letter to), 41

Smith, Sydney (anecdote of), 60

Vernon, Mr., 64

Wilkie, Sir David, 51

Wornum, Mr. R., 17



[1] An _Edition de luxe_, containing 14 extra plates from rare engravings in the British Museum, and bound in Roxburgh style, may be had, price 10_s._ 6_d._

[2] According to another and generally excellent authority that event occurred in Lincoln eight years later.

[3] It is interesting to trace what may be called the technical descent of these artists. Thus, Aliamet was a pupil of J. P. Le Bas, who studied under Nicholas Tardieu, who learnt his art from Le Pautre and Jean Audran. The master of the last was his uncle Gerard of the same name, who, again, was instructed by his own father Claude and his uncle, Charles Audran, all of them men in the foremost ranks of the engravers. Charles, the first of the great family of “_graveurs_” named Audran, formed his style upon that of Cornelius Bloemaert, a member of another famous line of artists on metal, well known by his superb plate of Guercino’s “St. Peter raising Tabitha from the Dead,” and transcripts of Raphael’s, Titian’s, Parmigiano’s and his own father’s (Abraham Bloemaert’s) pictures. Now, to trace the stream of skill a little farther, and, it must be admitted, to find it getting shallow at this point, let us add that Cornelius Bloemaert’s master was Crispin de Pass, the younger, about whom centres the third family of engravers to whom we have occasion to refer in this long line of tutorage. This De Pass had a brother, William, who came to England, as also did a third brother, Simon, the reproducer of so many “Van Dycks” and “Van Somers.” Crispin de Pass the younger studied his craft under his father, Crispin the elder, who had for a master Theodore Cuernhert, beyond whom, as he was born in 1522, it is needless to carry our recollections, or trace the art-genealogy of the instructor of John Landseer--who, almost three hundred years after the line is first brought into sight here, taught his sons Edwin, Charles, and Thomas.

[4] Boydell and Macklin maintained so close a rivalry that they contended not only as publishers but by means of picture exhibitions, the former as promoter of the “Shakespeare Gallery,” the latter as proprietor of the “Gallery of the British Poets.” These exhibitions contained originals of the engravings which both “patrons” published.

[5] A relation, probably, of the distinguished surgeon, one of whose benevolent labours was that of trying to revive the hanged Dr. Dodd. See Wraxall’s “Posthumous Memoirs,” 1836, ii. 28.

[6] This picture is now in the possession, says Mr. Tom Taylor in “Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds,” of Mr. Gosling, of Portland Place.

[7] Queen Anne Street East was the thoroughfare now called Langham Street and Foley Street, and distinct from Queen Anne Street West, where Turner lived, which retains its name. When Portland Place was extended to Oxford Street, and the new thoroughfare became part of the freshly made Regent Street, Foley House, which till then closed the southern end of Portland Place, was removed. The gardens of this house had separated Queen Anne Street West from Queen Anne Street East; the latter extended to Cleveland Street, and when the changes in question were complete, received the name of Foley Street, which it now bears with the addition of Langham Street. The numbers have been altered. At the back of the present 33, Langham Street is a fine large room with a north light, used as a studio by Mr. Eyre Crowe, A.R.A. In regard to Landseer’s birthplace see a note to Chapter II., below.

[8] This defect was the more remarkable because the French Academy, on which the English one relied for some of its rules, as well as the Academies of Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome, admitted engravers to the highest grades. The effect of British narrowness was to drive Woollett, Sharp, and Strange from the ranks of the Royal Academy, and to evoke from the last of these noteworthy artists an important criminatory tract called “An Inquiry into the Rise,” &c., “of the Royal Academy of Arts,” 1775.

[9] “Diary,” &c., of H. C. Robinson, 1869, i. 505-6.

[10] Evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Arts, &c., 1836. Question and Reply, No. 2046.

[11] “The Literary Gazette,” No. 1834.

[12] For this locality, see above. The number, 83 for 33, may or may not be a misprint. On this point the testimony of Mrs. Mackenzie is all-important, as conveyed thus to the author:--“The house in which my brothers were born stands in the bend of Foley Street, not far from Portland Street; and at the time my father lived in it there was a long garden where the dog was kept. Among some old letters of my mother’s I found the enclosed little note, showing that before my father’s marriage he lived in Queen Ann Street, altered to Foley Street afterwards, but not the same house, but a smaller one nearer Cleveland Street, which house, when my father left, was occupied by Mr. F. Lewis, father of John Lewis, who was born there.--Yours truly, EMMA MACKENZIE.”

[13] Mrs. Mackenzie (born Emma Landseer) has a capital drawing, made in these fields, of a hollow oak, with horses gathered about it, and standing gaunt and branchless in a field, which was doubtless executed at the time in question, and from this tree, which still remains (1880).

[14] At South Kensington is a very interesting collection of early drawings and etchings, of various dates, by Edwin Landseer. These were, for the most part, presented to the nation with the Sheepshanks Gift of Pictures and Drawings. Some of them, we believe, came with the Vernon Gift, and many were undoubtedly for a considerable time in the possession of Mr. Vernon before they passed into the hands of Mr. Sheepshanks. In the Exhibition of Landseer’s works, held at the Royal Academy in 1874, were several sketches executed when he was ten years old. See No. 133, likewise Nos. 136, 139.

[15] It ought to be noted here that the Queen has a considerable number of drawings by Sir E. Landseer, which, with examples from other collections, have been carefully described by Mr. Cosmo Monkhouse, in a richly illustrated work called “The Studies of Sir E. Landseer,” n. d.

[16] Mr. Algernon Graves’s excellent catalogue of the works of Sir E. Landseer enumerates, under “Etchings,” p. 40, a class of examples of this nature, the earliest instance of which is dated 1809, and appears to be that named at the beginning of the next paragraph of our text as “Heads of a Lion and Tiger.”

[17] The author is indebted to Sir Edward Cust for a correction of statements on this head, made in a former edition of this work. As Sir Edward’s letter is interesting on its own account, the reader will accept it entire:--

“Leasowe Castle, near Birkenhead, Oct. 21, 1874.

“SIR,--I am induced to believe that you will thank me for pointing out to you some errors in your ‘Memoirs of Sir E. Landseer’ in a matter in which I am naturally well conversant.

“At page 32 you speak of ‘the etching of Mr. Thomas Landseer of an Alpine mastiff of the great St. Bernard breed’ that had been ‘imported to this country by a gentleman residing in the neighbourhood of Liverpool,’ and by a note to this you refer to the Exhibition at Spring Gardens in 1817 of ‘Brutus,’ the property of W. H. Simpson, Esq., as following another and that is asserted to be an earlier work of Landseer’s--‘a mule’ in 1815.

“At page 60 you speak of ‘the magnificent dog to which we have formerly referred’ as ‘the property of a gentleman in Liverpool or a Mr. Bullock, having reference to the famous picture, ‘Travellers in the Snow.’

“Without giving any opinion as to ‘the minor works of the painter,’ when ‘he was little more than an infant,’ of which of course I know nothing, but I unhesitatingly claim a precedence of the dog before the Mule and Pointer of W. H. Simpson, Esq., in 1815, as well from the facts I will state as from the intercourse with Sir Edwin Landseer himself. ‘The dog’ was the property of my mother-in-law, who resided _here_, and who received it in 1814 from a Swiss gentleman who had obtained ‘Lion’ and another direct from the Monastery of St. Bernard. You will perceive that Thomas Landseer records, in his etching ‘from the drawing by his brother Edwin, that he did it, _aged thirteen_;’ as he was born in 1802, consequently, the etching was made in 1815. Now, Sir Edwin himself told me that it was his _first work_, and of course could not forget any of the circumstances; ‘that he met the dog in London streets under the care of a man servant, whom he followed to Mrs. L. W. Borde’s residence, who permitted him to make a sketch of it.’ Your remark that the drawing was done by Sir Edwin when he was nineteen years of age, and in the year 1821, is clearly a mistake, for ‘Lion’ was never in London since 1815, and died in 1821. There were several litters of puppies in that interval, one of which, a brindled dog that was named ‘Cæsar,’ is with ‘Lion’ in the picture of ‘Travellers in the Snow,’ and I myself sold this one at Tattersall’s, where he fetched thirty-five guineas at open sale, but I never heard who bought him. The breed is now quite extinct.

“I had the pleasure of often speaking with Sir Edwin on this subject, and he told me he had the original sketch somewhere, and that if he could find it I should have it, but of course this was some years ago.

“Yours truly,


[18] At Landseer’s sale, 1874, lot 316, “Old Brutus” realized 630_l._ It must not be forgotten that there are many pictures and studies which bear the names of this dog, and that of his son, another “Brutus.” See below.

[19] In 1874 “A French Hog,” 1814, belonged to the late Mr. J. Hogarth, who then owned another early picture of Sir Edwin’s, called “British Boar,” 1814, which is doubtless the same as the “English Hog” of the text; the animal belonged to Squire Western. As these works were painted in 1814 and etched by E. Landseer in 1818, we have but to remember the national circumstances of that period in order to recognize them as political satires.

[20] The “H.” is always understood as indicating an Honorary Exhibitor, in which capacity the young artist is thrice represented in the catalogue of this the Academy Exhibition for 1815. See below. “Queen Anne Street East” had become “Foley Street” between 1802 and 1815. Landseer, as his sisters tell me, was accepted as an “Honorary Exhibitor” on account of his youth, which was supposed to preclude him from being considered an artist in full.

[21] See “Autobiographical Recollections of the late C. R. Leslie, R.A.” 1860, vol. ii. p. 44.

[22] At the Academy Exhibition, Winter, 1874, No. 144. was “Sir E. Landseer when a Boy.” Drawn by J. Hayter, Esq. Pencil, J. Hayter, Esq.

[23] There appear to be doubts of the extent of E. Landseer’s obligations to Haydon, and the terms employed by the former on this subject (see his “Correspondence,” 1876, ii., p. 288) affirm that the writer had been serviceable to Landseer in making him known, rather than by direct teaching:--“I lent him my dissections from the lion, which he copied, and when he began to show real powers, I took a portfolio of his drawings to Sir George Beaumont’s one day at a grand dinner, and showed them all round to the nobility when we retired to coffee. When he painted his “Dogs,” I wrote to Sir George and advised him to buy it.” “In short, I was altogether the means of bringing him so early into notice. These things may be trifles, but when I see a youth strutting about and denying his obligations to me, I may as well note them down.” “His genius was guided by me.” Again, p. 318 of the same volume, Haydon averred:--“My influence upon English art has certainly been radical. Edwin Landseer dissected animals under my eye, copied my anatomical drawings, and carried my principles of study into animal painting. His genius, thus tutored, has produced sound and satisfactory results.” P. 472 of the same repeats the same claims, and discriminates between the degree of instruction said to have been given to the Landseers generally:--“This was the principle I explained to my pupils; to Eastlake first, and to the Landseers and others afterwards. To Edwin I lent my anatomical studies of the Lion, which guided him to depict dogs and monkeys. Charles and Thomas, Bewick, Harvey, Prentice, Lance, were all instructed in the same principle.” We may add that Mrs. Mackenzie (born Landseer) still owns a human skeleton which was prepared and articulated by her brothers, Thomas and Charles, who occupied a studio at Blenheim Steps, Oxford Street, where they dissected a “subject.”

[24] Forty years before these recollections of ours begin, Foley Street, of the history of which we have already written, was comparatively splendid, and inhabited by persons of distinction. Fuseli had lived in Queen Ann Street East. The neighbourhood was much affected by artists. Mulready had lodged in Cleveland Street, not far off; Newman Street, always artistic, but now so dull and grimy, was then thronged with painters and sculptors; Benjamin West had built himself a gallery there; Stothard (at No. 28) and Banks were numbered among its past, and then present inhabitants. A. E. Chalon was living at No. 71 in Great Titchfield Street; Shee was in Cavendish Square, in the house which had been occupied by F. Cotes and G. Romney; Collins, who was born in Great Titchfield Street, was then at 118, Great Portland Street, and had a house in New Cavendish Street in 1815; Northcote still worked in his gloomy den, 39, Argyll Street; and Edridge, then a fashionable miniature-painter, was at 64, Margaret Street, Cavendish Square; Constable at 63, Upper Charlotte Street, now 76, Charlotte Street, next house on the north side to the church; W. Daniell resided in Cleveland Street, No. 9. Thompson was at No. 11; James Ward at 6, Jackson at 7, Dawe at 22, and Howard at No. 5, in Newman Street; Leslie, as well as Flaxman, in Buckingham Street, Fitzroy Square; the former, with Allston, was at No. 8, the latter at No. 7; Hilton was not remote, at 10, Percy Street; De Wint in the same house; James Heath in Russell Place, Fitzroy Square, No. 15; Hazlitt, then painting portraits in considerable numbers, lived at 109, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury. Even so early in the century as the period of which we now write, some painters had flown to the then far west region of Kensington; thus, Wilkie sought the quiet of Phillimore Gardens; and Mulready had settled in the Gravel Pits on the Bayswater Road.

[25] See, on a later page of this volume, Mr. Ruskin’s criticism on “Shoeing,” quoted with the account of the pictures painted in 1846.

[26] It has been stated, and probably with truth, that Edwin Landseer obtained a medal, or a silver palette, from the Society of Arts, and at an earlier date than that in question here. But as artists rarely set much store on lay awards of similar kinds to this, it is only necessary to mention this matter. Contributing a work in a competition like that in view can hardly be classed with the act of exhibiting pictures in the Royal Academy.

[27] It is amusing to see how Wilkie puts the Scotchman first in this note, and of a piece with that story of his having, when a “hanger” of one of the Royal Academy exhibitions, actually filled the “line,” or best part of the whole wall-space in the best room, with pictures by Scotch artists. This piece of injustice was too shameless to be allowed to stand, so when Wilkie’s fellow “hangers” discovered the attempted trick, he was told, “This will never do, we must change all this;” and that was done. At another time Wilkie was observed to be carrying a picture through the rooms, and trying to fix it into one place after another, always proceeding from a good to a better position, until attention was attracted by his earnestness, and the question asked, why he was so anxious to promote the work in question. “Oh,” he replied, with exquisite _sang-froid_, “It’s Geddes’s!”

[28] Etty’s pictures of this year were, 59, “The Blue Beetle; Portraits:” 232, “Portrait of the Rev. W. Jay of Bath;” 320, “Ajax Telamon;” and, 375, “A Study.”

[29] The “Elymas” was not one of the Cartoons exhibited in 1818, the two shown in that year being “The Beautiful Gate” and “Christ’s Charge to Peter.” “Elymas” appeared in 1817.

[30] At a later date, when appointments were given to Dyce and others to superintend the Schools of Design, Haydon--who believed himself not only the originator of all modern English movements for promoting the Fine Arts, but the one competent authority respecting them--was bitterly indignant that he was not invited to accept the directorship of the new institution. He asserted the peculiar incompetence of Dyce, and spoke very frankly of his colleagues. See Haydon’s “Correspondence,” 1876, ii., p. 475. No doubt Haydon rightly estimated his own powers in this respect; his real vocation was teaching, which was at that time a faculty rarer than it is now, when we are by no means overstocked with good teachers, practical or literary, in art. He was never so happy as when giving technical counsel, or in lecturing; his published “Lectures” are probably the most practical and potent of their class.

[31] On Mr. Charles Christmas, Sir Edwin’s brother-in-law, see “Notes and Queries,” 5th series, XII. 383. By this it appears that he was an animal painter, who, discovering the superiority of E. Landseer in that line, gave up the race. There were two brothers of this name, Thomas and Charles, (see before). The latter was not a painter, but, we believe, an architect.

[32] The phrase, “lay-element” is already, 1880, passing out of recognition; when this book was formerly published it was in vogue, and understood to refer to those gentlemen who were willing to share the honours of the Royal Academicians; conferring, in return, the prestige which was due to their “distinguished social position and love of art.” These persons were the “lay-element” of the Commission of the Royal Academy. See “Report,” 1864.

[33] Our readers will recollect that, owing to the protest of Sir Edwin Landseer and others, the idiotic practice has abated of cropping from dogs’ ears those flaps which kindly nature placed to keep earth from the organs of earth-burrowing creatures.

[34] Since Landseer’s death this house and studio have been occupied by Mr. H. W. B. Davis, R.A.

[35] This example of extraordinary facility in artistic work may be paralleled, if not surpassed, by the feat which Smith, in his “Nollekens,” ii. p. 143 relates of Sherwin, who engraved, in _four days_ (!), the fine plate from the portrait of the Earl of Carlisle, now at Castle Howard, by Romney. Sherwin engraved Mrs. (“Perdita”) Robinson’s portrait at once upon the copper, without a drawing.

[36] “Art Journal,” where the picture is represented by an engraving.

[37] Mr. William Russell was Accountant-General of the Court of Chancery, fourth son of Lord William Russell, who, May 6, 1840, was murdered by B. E. Courvoisier, his valet.

[38] It has been said that many years ago the Queen and her Consort made etchings after Landseer’s designs, especially from parts of “Bolton Abbey.” Her Majesty and her Consort made at least a dozen etchings from other works of Landseer’s. (See Mr. Algernon Graves’s Catalogue, p. 41.) Speaking of copies of engravings from pictures by our artist, it may be mentioned that many of foreign origin, including a large proportion of piracies, have appeared; among these are, repeatedly, “Bolton Abbey;” “Favourites” (1835), ponies belonging to the Duke of Cambridge; “Dogs of the Great St. Bernard;” “Dignity and Impudence;” “The Return from Hawking;” “Laying down the Law;” “The Lion Dog of Malta;” “A distinguished Member of the Humane Society,” and “A Jack in Office.”

[39] One of the finest and most pathetic of Mr. Ruskin’s criticisms applies to this picture so happily that we ought to quote it here:--“Take, for instance, one of the most perfect poems or pictures (I use the words as synonymous) which modern times have seen--the ‘Highland Shepherd’s Chief Mourner.’ Here the exquisite execution of the crisp and glossy hair of the dog, the bright sharp touch of the green bough beside it, the clear painting of the wood of the coffin and the folds of the blanket, are language--language clear and expressive in the highest degree. But the close pressure of the dog’s breast against the wood, the convulsive clinging of the paw which has dragged the blanket off the trestle, the total powerlessness of the head laid, close and motionless, upon its folds, the fixed and tearful fall of the eye in its utter hopelessness, the rigidity of repose which marks that there has been no motion nor change in the trance of agony since the last blow was struck on the coffin-lid, the quietness and gloom of the chamber, the spectacles marking the place where the Bible was last closed, indicating how lonely has been the life--how unwatched the departure of him who is now laid solitary in his sleep;--these are all thoughts--thoughts by which the picture is separated at once from hundreds of equal merit, as far as mere painting goes, by which it ranks as a work of high art, and stamps its author not as a neat imitator of the texture of a skin, or the fold of a drapery, but as the man of mind.”--“Modern Painters,” ii., 1851, p. 8.

[40] On this picture Mr. Ruskin delivered an admirable criticism:--“Again, there is capability of representing the essential character, form, and colour of an object, without external texture. On this point much has been said by Reynolds and others; and it is, indeed, perhaps, the most unfailing characteristic of a great manner of painting. Compare a dog of Edwin Landseer with a dog of Paul Veronese. In the first, the outward texture is wrought out with exquisite dexterity of handling, and minute attention to all the accidents of curl and gloss which can give appearance of reality, while the hue and power of the sunshine, and the truth of the shadow on all these forms is necessarily neglected, and the larger relations of the animal as a mass of colour to the sky or ground, or other parts of the picture, utterly lost. This is Realism at the expense of Ideality, it is treatment essentially unimaginative.” In a note to this paper the critic added:--“I do not mean to withdraw the praise I have given, and shall always be willing to give, such pictures as the ‘Highland Shepherd’s Chief Mourner,’ and to all in which the character and inner life of the animals are developed. But all lovers of art must regret to find Mr. Landseer wasting his energies on such inanities as the ‘Shoeing,’ and sacrificing colour, expression, and action to an imitation of a glossy hide,”--“Modern Painters,” ii., 1846, p. 194. There is a grain of fallacy mixed with the noble truth of this--it did not follow that the sacrifices here enumerated were due to love for painting the horse’s glossy hide. The picture was defective as stated here, but not because of the realism it exhibited. The defects were inherent, not due to the imitation. Lacking the nobler qualities, the meaner ones became unworthily and ungracefully prominent. The superb _tour de force_ in the painting of the feathers of “Spaniels of King Charles Breed” (see above) does not appear mean, although it is at least equal in successful imitation to the hide in question.

[41] His name “in the world” was “Neptune;” “in society” his female companion’s name was “Venus.”

[42] Several of the descriptions here given have been adapted from fuller ones made by the author before the pictures, and for previous publication in the _Athenæum_ journal, during a long series of years. They thus partake of the character of studies from nature.