Attrib. Edwin Landseer, Fighting Dogs Study - Early 19th-century chalk drawing


An original early 19th-century chalk drawing, Attrib. Edwin Landseer Fighting Dogs Animal Study.

This dramatic chalk study of two dogs fighting shows the moment that one of the dogs leaps into the air, to escape the bite of its adversary. In an age before photography, the realism of this movement, frozen in time, demonstrates the artist's considerable skill.

This drawing comes from a collection in which other works have connections to Sir Edwin Henry Landseer RA, one historically attributed to Landseer and another with a suggested attribution to Landseer's sister. The drawing bears striking resemblance to the animal studies of Landseer - the choice of composition and dynamic pose of the dogs is similar to that in 'Fighting Dogs Catching their Breath' (Musée du Louvre, Paris) - painted by Landseer when he was just sixteen years old. The finely observed elongation of the dogs' legs and paws also recalls Landseer's sensitive treatment of animal anatomy.

In black chalk with grisaille watercolour wash and white bodycolour highlights. On blue-grey paper.

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer RA (1802-1873) was the greatest British animal painter of the 19th century and, for his contemporaries, the greatest artist of the age. Among his greatest admirers was Queen Victoria. He had a deep affection for animals and made animals the subject of most of his paintings.

Some minor age toning, visible lower right, and slight rippling to the paper in places. A section of the right-hand edge has been cut away, as shown. 
25.8cm x 18.8cm.

This work is one of a number of dog pictures we have for sale, representing the importance of animals in Victorian culture. The status, role and significance of animals and the animals kingdom were issues at the forefront of scientific investigation at the time, particularly in the context of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The relationship between animals and humans in particular could be explored successfully in visual art, and these pictures are testament to that – featuring hunting dog scenes, dogs as man’s best friend and dogs afforded almost human qualities.

This work forms part of a fascinating larger collection of mainly equestrian pictures which we have for sale, connected with two highly regarded horse painters: Charles Loraine-Smith (1751-1835), a keen horseman known for his early hunting and sporting scenes, and Charles Cooper Henderson (1803-1877), the pre-eminent painter of Victorian horses and coaches. At a time when animal painting was seen as a ‘lower’ form of art, these artists were pioneering in establishing the respectability and status of the genre. The story of why these pictures have come together is a mystery, but it is possible that the collection was at one time owned by Charles Cooper Henderson: our collection includes a watercolour by William James Müller – and, interestingly, Charles’s brother, the distinguished art collector John Henderson, was an avid collector of Müller’s works.

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Product code: JJ-819

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