If you have never seen the work of Edwin Landseer you must seek out the works of this master. One of the most revered animal artists ever, Sir Edwin Landseer was gifted with an extraordinary ability to capture the character of his animal subjects. Landseer was fascinated with Scottish history and the landscape of the Highlands where he visited Sir Walter Scott at his home Abbotsford. In his early work “High Life ” (painted in 1829) the dog itself was once thought to have been Sir Walter Scott’s dog Maida, but according to some references the dog is closer to Landseer’s own deerhound. Of Maida Scott wrote ” and one of the hansomest dogs that could be found; it was a present to me from the chief of Glengary, and was highly valued, both on account of his beauty, his fidelity, and the great rarity of the breed.”
Of the portrait ‘Head of a Deerhound’ Cosmo Monkhouse wrote: It is fortunate that Landseer’s favourite deerhound ‘Hafed’ of which we here have a portrait, did not in all ways resemble Sir Walter Scott’s celebrated dog of that breed, Maida, of which we are told that he could not endure the sight of the artist and would frequently show his displeasure forcibly. Belonging to the majestic old breed of Scottish deerhounds, Hafed was well worthy of Landseer’s pencil; and the portrait is lifelike to a degree. The picture was painted in 1834, and a print of it subsequently appeared in the Sportsman’s Annual.
Head of a deerhound.
From 1824 Landseer was a visitor to Sir Walter Scott’s house in the Scottish Borders, Abbotsford. The colouring of Maida illustrates the state of the breed which neared extinction and was becoming quite dilute with intermingling with other breeds.
Scene at Abbotsford
Enjoy Thomas Gent’s homage to his work and the deerhound subject.
On a Spirited Portrait in my album, of a Favorite Deerhound belonging to Sir Walter Scott by Edwin Landseer, Esq.
Thomas Gent Poet early 1800’s
Who in this sketchey wonder does not trace
The fire, the spirit, and the living grace,
That mark the hand of genius and of taste?
Who does not recognize in such a head
Truth, vigilance, fidelity, inbred,
Sagacity that’s human, and a waste
Of those high qualities, and virtues rare,
Which poor humanity has not to spare?
Then, faithful Hound! thy happy lot is cast
In pleasant places—and thy life has pass’d
In the dear service of a Master—whom
The world’s concurrent voice has yielded now
The meed of highest praise—and on whose brow
Th’ imperishable wreath of fame shall bloom;
Nor is this fate less happy than the rest,
That he should paint thee, who can paint thee best!
http://www.rubylane.com/shops/greens/item/SGL020 One of many online resources for ordering Landseer prints
A treasure trove of information for the ever curious is the free online books available from Google