Edwin Henry Landseer

Edwin Henry Landseer, of course, was a brilliant animal painter whose work thrived in the Victorian age because he gave his dogs moral dimension. Sadly, Landseer suffered a breakdown in 1840 and fought against depression and ill health for the remained of his life even as he continued to paint with inspired talent.

Most of the dogs he painted in the 1830 were commissions. In the piece seen here, Landseer’s subjects were, “Grafton, ” a Bloodhound, and the West Highland Terrier named, “Scratch,” owned Jacob Bell, a friend of Lanseer. Critiques of the painting suggest that Landseer parodied Dutch portrait tradition by framing the subject with an arm extended over the edge. History tells us that Grafton was a notoriously mischievous dog, while Scratch was especially appreciated both by Landseer and Bell for his appealing beauty. We find it interesting, if not helpful, to look at these old paintings of different dog breeds to better understand our breeds today.

“Dignity and Impudence” Oil on Canvas by Edwin Henry Landseer in 1839

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