Landseer, Thomas (DNB00)
LANDSEER, THOMAS (1795–1880), engraver, eldest son of John Landseer [q. v.], was born at 71 Queen Anne Street East (now 33 Foley Street), London, in 1795. He was brought up to the profession of an engraver, and received instruction from his father, whom he assisted in several of his plates. He also studied with his brother Charles under B. R. Haydon [q. v.], under whose direction he made chalk drawings from the cartoons of Raphael and the Elgin marbles. In 1816 he published his first engraving on copper from a ‘Study of a Head of a Sybil,’ by Haydon, a mixture of etching and aquatint, and in the following year his father published the first part of a series of etchings by him, imitating the studies of Haydon for his pictures, and called ‘Haydon's Drawing Book.’ Before this he had executed a number of etchings after his young brother Edwin's drawings, the first of which is ‘A Bull, marked T. W.,’ drawn and etched in the same year (1811), when Thomas was sixteen and Edwin nine years old. The rest of his life was mainly devoted to etching and engraving his brother's drawings and pictures [see Landseer, Sir Edwin]. In 1823 he worked with great vigour, and engraved Edwin's picture of the ‘Rat-catchers’ and five of his drawings of wild beasts. These last plates, with others by him after Rubens and other artists, with an ‘Essay on Carnivora’ by his father, were issued in a volume in 1823. Thomas's engravings after Edwin have a freedom which shows that he was already emancipating himself from the somewhat formal style of his father. Bohn's edition of the work (1853) contains three additional plates after drawings by himself. Three etchings, after Edwin's drawings for the ‘Annals of Sporting,’ belong to the same year (1823), and in the next he engraved six more for the same periodical. In 1825, besides many other plates, he executed one of a ‘Vanquished Lion,’ which has Edwin's name engraved upon it, but is supposed to have been painted as well as engraved by himself (see Graves, Catalogue, No. 102). In 1837 he engraved the ‘Sleeping Bloodhound,’ down to that time his most important work. Of etchings and engravings after his brother he executed over 125. Some of the more important of his later efforts in reproducing his brother's works are: ‘A distinguished Member of the Humane Society’ (1839), ‘Dignity and Impudence’ (1841), ‘Laying down the Law’ (1843), ‘Stag at Bay’ (1848), ‘Alexander and Diogenes’ (1852), ‘The Monarch of the Glen’ (1852), ‘Night’ and ‘Morning’ (1855), ‘Children of the Mist’ (1856), ‘Man proposes, God disposes’ (1867), ‘Defeat of Comus’ (1868), ‘The Sanctuary’ (1869), ‘The Challenge’ (1872), ‘Indian Tent, Mare and Foal’ (1875), and his last plate, after almost the last of his brother's pictures, ‘The Font’ (1875).
Thomas Landseer was an engraver of great power and originality, and may be said to have invented a style in order to render more faithfully and sympathetically the works of his brother. A master of all methods of engraving on metal, he employed in his most effective plates all the resources of the art, making especially a free use of the etched line in order to render more truly the textures of fur and hide. His great merit as an engraver is now well recognised, but the Royal Academy was long in granting him his due honour. He was not admitted into the ranks of the associates till 1868, when he was seventy-three years of age. The most important of his engravings after artists other than Sir Edwin is ‘The Horse Fair,’ after Rosa Bonheur.
To the original designs, etched by himself, already mentioned should be added, ‘Monkeyana’ (1827), ‘Etchings illustrative of Coleridge's “Devil's Walk”’ (1831), and ‘Characteristic Sketches of Animals’ (1832). He was also the author of an admirable biography, ‘The Life and Letters of William Bewick [q. v.]’, his former colleague and fellow-pupil under Haydon. It was published in 1871.
Thomas Landseer died at 11 Grove End Road, St. John's Wood, on 20 Jan. 1880.
[Bryan's Dict. (Graves); Annals of the Fine Arts; Stephens's Landseer in Great Artists Series; Graves's Dict.; Graves's Catalogue of the Works of Sir E. Landseer.]