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SIR EDWIN LANDSEER ***




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_ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHIES OF
THE GREAT ARTISTS._

SIR EDWIN HENRY LANDSEER.




ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHIES OF THE GREAT ARTISTS.


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

LEONARDO DA VINCI. By Dr. J. PAUL RICHTER.
MICHELANGELO. By CHARLES CLEMENT.
RAPHAEL. From J. D. PASSAVANT. By N. D’ANVERS.
TITIAN. By RICHARD FORD HEATH, M.A., Oxford.
TINTORETTO. By W. ROSCOE OSLER. From researches at Venice.
HOLBEIN. From Dr. A. WOLTMANN. By JOSEPH CUNDALL.
THE LITTLE MASTERS OF GERMANY.[1] By W. B. SCOTT.
REMBRANDT. From CHARLES VOSMAER. By J. W. MOLLETT.
RUBENS, By C. W. KETT, M.A., Oxford.
VAN DYCK and HALS. By PERCY R. HEAD, Lincoln Coll., Oxford.
FIGURE PAINTERS OF HOLLAND. By Lord RONALD GOWER, F.S.A.
VERNET and DELAROCHE. By J. RUUTZ REES.
HOGARTH. By AUSTIN DOBSON.
REYNOLDS. By F. S. PULLING, M.A., Oxford.
TURNER. By W. COSMO MONKHOUSE.
LANDSEER. By FREDERICK G. STEPHENS.


_The following volumes are in preparation_: -

FRA ANGELICO. By CATHERINE M. PHILLIMORE.
FRA BARTOLOMMEO. By LEADER SCOTT.
VELAZQUEZ. By EDWIN STOWE, M.A., Oxford.
GAINSBOROUGH. By G. M. BROCK ARNOLD, M.A., Oxford.
ALBRECHT DÜRER. By R. F. HEATH, M.A.
GIOTTO. By HARRY QUILTER, M.A., Trinity College, Cambridge.

[Illustration: _Deerhound’s Heads._]




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

SIR EDWIN LANDSEER

BY FREDERICK G. STEPHENS,

AUTHOR OF “MEMORIALS OF MULREADY,” ETC.

[Illustration]


LONDON:

SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON,

CROWN BUILDINGS, FLEET STREET.

1880.

(_All rights reserved._)



TO

HENRY WALLIS, PAINTER,

THE

THANK-OFFERING OF AN

OLD FRIEND.




PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.


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._




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

PAGE

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

CHAPTER II.

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

CHAPTER III.

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

CHAPTER IV.

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

CHAPTER V.

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

CHAPTER VI.

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

CHAPTER VII.

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

CHAPTER VIII.

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




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

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


PAGE

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).




CHRONOLOGY OF EDWIN HENRY LANDSEER.


PAGE

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).]




SIR EDWIN LANDSEER.




CHAPTER I.

ORIGIN AND PARENTAGE.


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


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