Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/72

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Landseer
Landseer
66


sitters at the time, some for separate portraits and others introduced into his sporting pictures, were the Duke of Gordon, the father of the Duchess of Bedford (‘Scene in the Highlands,’ 1828); the Duke of Athole ('Death of a Stag in Glen Tilt,’ 1829); the Duke of Abercorn (1831); the Duke of Devonshire and Lady Constance Grosvenor (1832) ; the Countess of Cheeterfield and the Countees of Blessington (1886); the Earl of Baskerville (‘Death of the Wild Bull’); Lady Fitzharris and Viscount Melbourne (1836); the Hon. Mrs. Norton, and two children of the Duke of Sutherland (1888). To 1839 belong the celebrated portraits girls, Miss Elizabeth Peel with Fido ('Beauty’s Bath'), Miss Blanche Egerton (with a cockatoo), and the Princess Mary of Cambridge with a Newfoundland dog ('On Trust'); an in the same year he painted his first portrait of the queen, which was given by her majesty to Prince Albert before their marriage. At the palace he was hereafter treated with exceptional favour. From 1839, to 1866 he frequently painted or drew the queen, the prince consort, and their children, the Princess Royal, the Princess Alice, and the Princess Beatrice. He painted also her majesty's gamekeepers and her pets, and made designs for her private writing-paper. He taught the queen and her husband to etch, and between 1841 and 1844 the queen executed six and the prince four etchings from his drawings.

In 1840 he was obliged to travel abroad, for the benefit of his health, and he sent no picture to the Academy in 1841. Ha made, however, a series of beautiful sketches during his absence, some of which were afterwards utilised in pictures like ‘The Shepherd's Prayer,' 'Geneva,’ and ‘The Maid and the Magpie,' and from 1842 to 1850 he exhibited regularly every year. To this period belong many of his most famous and most poetical pictures. In 1842 appeared ‘The Sanctuary’ (Windsor Castle), the first of those pictures of deer in which the feeling of the sportsmen gave place to that of the sad contemplative post, viewing in the life of animals a reflection of the lot of man. In 1848 he painted a sketch of ‘The Defeat of Comus' for the fresco executed for the queen in the summer-house at Buckingham Palace called Milton Villa, one of the most powerful and least agreeable of his works. In ‘l844 came the painful ‘Otter Speared’ and the peaceful ‘Shoeing;' in 1846 the ‘Time of Peace’ and 'Time of War;' in 1848 ‘Alexander and Diogenes,' his most elaborate piece of canine comedy (the four last are in the National Gallery), and ‘A Random Shot' (a fawn trying to suck its mother lying dead on the snow), perhaps the most pathetic of all his conceptions. In 1861 he exhibited the superb ‘Monarch of the Glen' (which was painted for the refreshment-room at the House of Lords, but the House of Commons refused to vote the money), and his most charming piece of fancy, the scene from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' or 'Titania and Bottom' (painted for the Shakespeare Room of I.K. Brunel [q. v.] now in the possession of Earl Brownlow); in 1853 the grand pictures of a duel between stage named 'Night’ and ‘Morning’ (Lord Hardinge); in 1864 ‘Piper and a pair of Nutcrackers’ (a bullfinch and two sguirrels); and the grim dream of polar bears disturbing the relic; of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated arctic expedition called ‘Man proposes God disposes' (Holloway College).

In 1850 Landseer was knighted by the queen, and in this year appeared 'A Dialogue at Waterloo' (National Gallery), with portraits of the Duke of Wellington and the Marchioness of Douro. He had gone to Belgium for the first time the year before, to get materials for this for his pictures. In 1855 he received the gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition—an honour not accorded to any other English artist. In 1860 he produced 'The Flood in the Highlands.'

A severe mental depression, from which he had long been suffering, began at this time to obscure Landseer's reason, and in 1862 and 1863 no finished picture proceeded his hand. But he rallied from the attack, and in 1865, on the death of Sir Charles Eastlake, he was offered the residency of the Royal Academy, which he declined. In November 1868 his nervous state of health was aggravated by a railway accident, which left a scar upon his forehead. His most important work between his partial recovery and his death were a picture of the ‘Swannery invaded by Eagles,' 1869, in which all of his youthful vigour and ambition seemed to flash out again for the last time, and the models of the lions for in Nelson Monument, for which he had received the commission in 1859. These were placed in Trafalgar Square in 1866, when he exhibited at the Royal Academy his only other work in sculpture, a fine moel of a 'Stag at Bay.' His last protrait was of the queen, his last drawing was of a dog. He died on 1 Oct. 1873, and was buried with public honours in St. Paul's Cathedral on 11 Oct.

In person Landseer was below the middle height. His broad, frank face, magnificent forehead, and fine eyes are well rendered in the portrait group called ‘The Connoisseurs’ (1865), in which the artist has represented