Born in London on 7 March 1802, the son of an engraver the young Edwin Landseer’s talent was such that he had already exhibited at the Royal Academy by the time of his 14th birthday, long before he became arguably the most popular artist of the Victorian era (he was certainly a favourite of the Queen’s who knighted him in 1850).
A flamboyant man of eccentric tastes and a heavy drinker who mixed in the highest social circles he was conscious of the need to fund his lavish lifestyle so he painted what he could sell and what sold best were paintings of animals which would come to dominate a canon of work that belied to some degree his reputation as a fine landscape painter, portraitist, and skilled sculptur. His two most famous works perhaps, are his painting of a Highland Stag, Monarch of the Glen, and the Lion Statues at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
Landseer’s lavish lifestyle would eventually take its toll on his health particularly the alcohol and a dependency on drugs that led to increasingly erratic behaviour so extreme that in 1871, the year before his death he was formally declared insane:
Monarch of the Glen
Victoria and Family
Victoria at Osborne
The Whisky Still
Hector, Nero and Dash
The Shrew Tamed