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 Edwin Henry Landseer  (1802 - 1873)

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About: Edwin Henry Landseer


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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/England      Known for: animal painting and sculpture

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BIOGRAPHY for Edwin Landseer
1802 (London, England)
1873 (London, England)

United Kingdom/England

Self portrait - Self-portrait with Dogs

Often Known For
animal painting and sculpture

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Biography from Fred R. Kline Gallery, Inc.:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Sir Edwin (Henry) Landseer (British painter, draftsman, sculptor, etcher)
Born London March 7, 1802-Died London October 1, 1873.

In Victorian England, Sir Edwin Landseer's fame was widespread and his success and popularity made his name a household word among a broad public following, even enduring a long period of critical neglect.  However, Landseer remained one of the most highly respected British painters of the 19th century and his works commanded high prices from collectors, the most eminent of whom was Queen Victoria who commissioned a large number of his works including genre paintings, portraits, and conversation pieces of the royal family and customarily the royal dogs as well.

Animals were the main subject of Landseer's art?and with irony, humor and bold invention, he invested them with human characteristics and human behavior. Landseer's animals possess all the strengths and weaknesses of character associated with humanity and are usually presented within a purely naturalistic or story-telling context that reveals their particular personalities, which is often contrasted with their interaction with people.

His favorite animal subjects included dogs, deer, and monkeys, and he portrayed them in primarily domestic settings and hunting scenes in Scotland.  Despite his great skills as a painter of animals and his brilliant renderings of their anatomy, his tendency toward sentimentality and moralizing in his animal narratives?those very qualities which delighted the Victorian public?caused his reputation to dim as that fashion lost its appeal among the critical art establishment and as the Victorian era faded.

Toward the end of the 20th century, Landseer's artistic fortunes were revived with retrospective exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (the first in the United States) and at the Tate Gallery in London, both curated by Landseer scholar Richard Ormond.  Once again the appeal of his paintings brought high prices from collectors, notably $2 million at auction in 2003 and many prices at close to $1 million in the 1980s and 1990s.  Among Landseer's most famous and enduring works are The Monarch of the Glen depicting a robust stag of the Scottish Highlands and the sculptural Lions of Trafalgar Square, which are considered icons of the British Empire.

Written and edited by Fred R. Kline, Fred R. Kline Gallery, with information gathered from various sources, including: Sir Edwin Landseer, an exhibition catalogue by Richard Ormand; a biographical essay by Robert Upstone in Grove Art Dictionary; and a biographical essay by Ian Chilvers in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art & Artists.

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