Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, RA (1802-1873)
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Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, RA, was an English painter, well known for his paintings of animals – particularly horses, dogs and stags. The best known of Landseer’s works, however, are sculptures: the lions in Trafalgar Square, London.
At the age of just 13, in 1815, Landseer exhibited works at the Royal Academy. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy at the age of 24, and an Academician of the Royal Academy five years later in 1831. He was knighted in 1850, and although elected President of the Royal Academy in 1866 he declined the invitation.
Landseer was a notable figure in 19th century British art, and his works can be found in Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kenwood House and the Wallace Collection in London. He also collaborated with fellow painter Frederick Richard Lee.
Landseer’s popularity in Victorian Britain was considerable. He was regarded as one of the foremost animal painters of his time, and reproductions of his works were commonly found in middle-class homes. Yet his appeal crossed class boundaries, for Landseer was quite popular with the British aristocracy as well, including Queen Victoria, who commissioned several portraits of her family from Landseer. Landseer was particularly associated with the Scottish Highlands, which provided the subjects (both human and animal) for many of his sporting pictures, including his early success The Hunting of Chevy Chase (1825-1826) and his majestic stag study Monarch of the Glen
The name Landseer is used for the variety of Newfoundland dog that, rather than being almost entirely black, features a mix of both black and white spots — the variety Landseer popularized in his paintings of water dogs rescuing children from drowning. Edwin Henry Landseer was rumored to be able to paint with both hands at the same time, for example, paint a horse’s head with the right and its tail with the left, simultaneously.
The English architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens was named after him – Lutyens’ father was a friend of Landseer. Landseer’s grave is in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
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