Posts Tagged ‘Edwin Henry Landseer’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Charles Landseer
Charles Landseer


Charles Landseer

Charles Landseer was born in London on 12 August 1799, the second son of the engraver John Landseer, and the elder brother of the animal painter, Sir Edwin Landseer. He trained under his father, and the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon. He was awarded the silver palette of the Royal Society of Arts for a drawing of Laocoon in 1815, and in 1816 he entered the Royal Academy Schools where he was taught by Henry Fuseli.

In 1823 he accompanied Sir Charles Stuart de Rothesay on a diplomatic mission to Portugal and Brazil. Many of the drawings he made on the journey were shown at the British Institution in 1828.

He became an associate in of the Royal Academy in 1837, and a full academician in 1845. In 1851, he was appointed Keeper of the Royal Academy, a post requiring him to teach in the “Antique School”. He remained in the position until 1873.

Most of his pictures were of subjects from British history, or from literature. He paid close attention to the historical accuracy of the accessories and details in his paintings. His works included The Meeting of Charles I. and his Adherents before the Battle of Edgehill, Clarissa Harlowe in the Prison Room of the Sheriff’s Office (1833, now in the collection of the Tate Gallery), The Pillaging of a Jew’s House in the Reign of Richard I (1839, Tate Gallery) and The Temptation of Andrew Marvel (1841).

He died in London on 22 July 1879, leaving 10,000 guineas to the Royal Academy to fund scholarships.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Jane Gordon Duchess of Gordon
1748 or 1749 – 14 April 1812


Jane Gordon

Jane Gordon Duchess of Gordon was the fourth child of Sir William Maxwell, 3rd Baronet of Monreith, and his wife Magdalene Blair. She was born at Myrton Castle the now ruined castle a short distance from the present seat of the family, Monreith House, which was not built until fifty years later.

Her father has been depicted as a drunk who allowed his family to exist in poverty in Edinburgh while he sold most of his 30,000-acre (12,000 ha) estate to make ends meet. In Edinburgh Jane lived together with her mother and her two sisters in a rented second-floor flat in Hyndford’s Close near Royal Mile. As for the family living in an Edinburgh apartment, that would have been normal at that time. Titled Scottish land owning families often rented apartments in Edinburgh so their girls could receive further education, be launched on Edinburgh Society, and attend the balls. This is exactly what happened when Lady Maxwell moved there in 1760 with her three daughters: Catherine, 13; Jane, 11; and Eglantine, 9, the future Lady Wallace of Craigie.

The Monreith Maxwells would have been considered a respectable family in that era. They were closely related to the Maxwells at Caerlaverock, Earls of Nithsdale who in the 17th Century had been considered one of the most powerful families in Scotland. And their grandmother was the daughter of the 9th Earl of Eglinton, head of the great Ayrshire land owning family and distinguished Member of Parliament.

Jane had a nasty accident as a 14 year-old when playing in the High Street in Edinburgh. She somehow got a finger of her right hand jammed in the wheel of a cart which moved away and tore her finger off. There is at Monreith House a letter written, left handed, by her after the accident explaining how it happened. After this, whenever possible, she wore gloves in which a wooden finger replaced the one missing. One of these wooden fingers is still at Monreith House. In later life she used to explain the loss of the finger by saying it was a coaching accident.

When Jane reached 16, she was so strikingly beautiful that a song was written about her: “Bonnie Jennie of Monreith, the Flower of Galloway”. That was also when she fell in love for the first and probably only time. The object of her affections was a young officer who was probably a Fraser, a relative of Lord Lovat. Soon after they met, he left with his regiment, probably to go to America, and word later reached her that he had died.

On 28 October 1767 Jane married the 24-year-old Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon. The young Duke lived in the Gordon townhouse almost opposite the Maxwells, and he had inherited a considerable fortune and the title at the age of nine.

It was while they were on honeymoon at the Fordyce’s country seat, Ayton in Berwickshire, that she received a note from her former love, the young Fraser, very much alive, asking her to marry him. She is said to have read the note and fainted. However, she kept in touch with the young Fraser.

For the next 20 years, the Duke and Duchess lived at Gordon Castle in Morayshire which Jane’s husband enlarged to be one of the largest homes in Scotland—with a facade 600 feet long and an 84 foot high central tower. Part of the town of Fochabers had to be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere tomake room for the extensions. However, years later most of the enlargements were dismantled again.

At Gordon Castle, Jane organised parties, planted trees, and took a keen interest in farming. She was a great enthusiast for local dancing and fiddle and pipe music. She is credited with establishing the Strathspey as a dance form.

The couple had seven children. Her first son, George, Marquess of Huntly, the later George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon was born in 1770. The Duke also had an illegitimate son at about the same time, also called George, by a Mrs. Christie. Jane used to refer to “my George and the Duke’s George”.

Jane entertained on an increasingly lavish scale, with as many as 100 sitting down to dinner and guests staying for three months in the Castle. And in the 1780s, the Duchess started entertaining in Edinburgh, quickly becoming the leading hostess. Jane was the sole arbitress of fashion in Edinburgh. Horace Walpole called her the “Empress of fashion”. She regularly gave soirée evenings where up and coming artists were asked to entertain. It was in her drawing room that Robert Burns first read his poetry to Edinburgh society, and she became his chief sponsor, purchasing all his early published works.

In 1787 the Duke and the Duchess of Gordon moved to London. They first rented a house on Downing Street from Lord Sheffield, then one in Pall Mall from the Marquess of Buckingham, and finally one in St. James’s Square. And Jane continued her party-giving habit, but with a distinctly Scottish flavour. She made everyone dance Scottish dances. King George III adored her, and she supported the King, so she was allowed to promote her Scottish heritage more than others would have dared. She gave a ball at which she and the Duchess of York dressed in tartan when it was officially banned, and she arranged for the King to inspect troops dressed in tartan in Hyde Park.

It was in the Pall Mall house that she held her greatest parties. Close to Parliament in Westminster, she kept open house for the Tories. Pitt, the Prime Minister, and Dundas, the Lord Advocate were frequent visitors. And it was during this time that she arranged a truce between the King and his eldest son, the Prince Regent, whose had run up enormous debts. She arranged for his debts to be met, and this enabled the construction of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton to be continued.

In 1793, the French Revolutionary Government declared war on Great Britain. At that time the British army was short of recruits, since the military service was not very popular among the young men. As a consequence the Government asked Jane’s husband, the Duke of Gordon, to raise another regiment. The outcome of this was a bet between Jane and the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. Jane bet with the Prince Regent that she could raise more men than he, meaning the Government. Although 45 by then, she was still extremely attractive. Her recruiting technique was, to say the least, unusual. She wore a military uniform and a large black feathered hat (highland bonnet), touring Scotland to organise reels. Anyone who joined the reel joined the army and received the King’s shilling, the recruiting payment, from between the Duchess’ lips by kissing her. This was how the Gordon Highlanders were founded. Her total was 940 men. On 24 June 1794, the newly embodied regiment paraded for the first time at Aberdeen. The regiment existed until 1994.

In 1799, Jane became depressed and ill. Her eldest son, George, the later George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon, had gone off to the wars, and she wrote in a letter to a friend: “Oh where and oh where has my highland laddie gone?” Her second son, Alexander (1785–1808), died at 23, and her husband had moved his mistress, Jane Christie, into Gordon Castle and built a small house on the Spey, called Kinrara, for his estranged wife. Jane lived there for the next six years, continuing her entertaining and partying.

Having enjoyed life as a Duchess, Jane was determined to get her daughters well married, and she set out securing suitable husbands for them. In 1802, after the Peace of Amiens, she took her younger daughter, Georgiana (1781–1853), to Paris with a view to marrying her to the son of the Empress Joséphine, Eugène de Beauharnais. This would not have been popular so soon after hostilities, but nothing came of it. A short time later, Georgiana was reputed to be friendly, if not engaged, to Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, but he died before they could marry. Jane then arranged a meeting with the Duke’s younger brother John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford who had inherited the title and recently been widowed with several children. All went as planned, and he soon married his late brother’s fiancée on 23 June 1803 in London. Georgiana had ten children by the Duke, and she followed in her mother’s partying footsteps, entertaining frequently in her Bedford home, Woburn Abbey. The Duchess of Bedford was a great patroness of the arts, and had a long standing relationship with the painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.

Jane then turned to finding a husband for Charlotte (1768–1842), the eldest daughter. She plotted to have her marry William Pitt, the Prime Minister, but her plan failed when Pitt’s close friend, Lord Henry Dundas, took an interest in Charlotte. Neither potential husband worked out, and Charlotte later married on 9 September 1789 at Gordon Castle Colonel Charles Lennox, the future 4th Duke of Richmond.

General Cornwallis had returned to England from his disastrous command of the British troops during the American Revolution to be, rather surprisingly, treated as a hero and created a Marquess. Having fought with Jane’s brother at Plessey in India as well as in the American war, he would have been a friend of Jane’s. So his eldest son, Lord Brome, was therefore considered suitable for Louisa (1776–1850), the fourth daughter. Cornwallis refused to approve the marriage, however, citing madness in the Gordon family. The Duchess allayed his fears by swearing that there was “not one drop of Gordon blood” in this particular daughter. The marriage then proceeded on 17 April 1795 in London. History does not relate who Louisa’s natural father was, but it is thought to have been Captain Fraser, her early love from Edinburgh.

Susan (1774–1828), the third daughter, married on 7 October 1793 in Edinburgh to William Montagu, 5th Duke of Manchester, and Madeleine (1772–1847), the second daughter, married firstly on 2 April 1789 in London to Sir Robert Sinclair, 7th Baronet. On 25 November 1805 she married secondly at Kimbolton Castle to Charles Fysche Palmer.

Jane’s own marriage had been more of less an arrangement from the beginning. The return from the dead of her lover during the honeymoon was an inauspicious start. The Duke having an illegitimate son by Jane Christie at the same time as his heir was born was an unfortunate sequence, to be followed by the birth of her illegitimate daughter a few years later. The Duke openly kept his mistress at Gordon Castle while the Duchess seems to have preferred assignations with her lover on the windswept moors.

By 1805, the marriage was officially over, and the couple reached a financial agreement whereby the Duchess would be given a new house, capital payments, and generous annual supplements. The Duke was by then in financial difficulties, however; he acknowledged his liability to the Duchess, but he did not pay all the monies legally due her.

Jane was reduced to living in hotels, and she became increasingly eccentric. She was involved in an acrimonious dispute with her estranged husband over money, and she died in 1812 at Poultney’s Hotel, Piccadilly, London, surrounded by her four daughters and surviving son. Her body was taken north to be buried at the old Celtic Chapel by the banks of the Spey at Kinrara. There her husband carried out her final wish and erected a monument to her on which were recorded the marriages of her children.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Landseer
1794 – 20 January 1880


Thomas Landseer

Landseer was born in London, the eldest of the fourteen children of engraver John Landseer. Seven of the children survived to adulthood and all became artists; his younger brothers were painters and later Royal Academicians Charles Landseer and Edwin Landseer. Like his father, Thomas was deaf. He was the only sibling to marry, his wife’s name was Belinda. His son George Landseer became a portrait and landscape painter.

Like his siblings, Landseer was taught artistic techniques by his father. He then studied under painter Benjamin Robert Haydon alongside his brother Charles and William Bewick. He began etching aged 14, copying his precocious brother’s drawings. Thomas continued to make etched copies of Edwin’s works in later life, including Dignity and Impudence (1841), Stag at Bay (1848), Alexander and Diogenes (1852), The Monarch of the Glen (1852) and, his last work, The Font (1875). His soft-ground etchings complimented his brother’s animal paintings, and sales of the popular prints (retailing for between 3 and 10 guineas) contributed to his brother’s fame and fortune. He assisted his brother with giving art lessons to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Landseer produced satirical etchings of monkeys in human clothing for Monkeyana, or, Men in Miniature (1827), and dedicated his Characteristic Sketches of Animals (1832) to the Zoological Society. He also produced illustrations for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Devil’s Walk (1831). He also exhibited paintings at the British Institution and the Royal Academy. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1867 for his etchings. He edited a biography of William Bewick published in 1871.

He died at 11 Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, on 20 January 1880. He was buried at Highgate Cemetery

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Frederick Richard Lee
10 June 1798 – 5 June 1879


Frederick Richard Lee

Lee was the son of Thomas Lee of Barnstaple and brother of Thomas Lee (Jnr), an architect.

Frederick enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy in 1818, aged nineteen. Although no dated paintings are recorded from this time, by the time of his election as an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1834, at least six dated paintings existed. One of F.R. Lee’s paintings from this time is Bringing in the Stag.

Lee was elected to full membership of the Royal Academy in 1838. A further seven paintings have been documented as painted by Lee before this date, again as oils, mainly on canvas. The Tate Gallery has an example from this period of his career in Sea Coast Sunrise. He is known to have produced a further forty dated paintings over the next thirty years. In addition to the dated paintings, fifty undated paintings exist, including Lake in a Park.

Lee had a house at Pilton, near Barnstaple, but being from early life devoted to the sea, he lived a great deal on board his yacht, in which he visited the coasts of France, Spain, and Italy. He exhibited for the last time in 1870, and became an honorary retired academician in the following year. Lee died at Vleesch Bank, Herman station, in the division of Malmsay, South Africa, where some of his family were living, on 5 June 1879.

Lee was a prolific artist, based on the number of oil paintings he is known to have produced, both on canvas and on board. His subject matter choices clearly shared influences with John Constable and other contemporaries. Some of his more notable paintings were done in collaboration with Thomas Sidney Cooper (between 1848 and 1856) and Sir Edwin Landseer, Lee painting the landscape and Cooper and Landseer adding the animals. Landscapes and pastoral scenes form the majority of his painting interest, with some exceptions, for example, Cover Side, The Campfire and Gypsy Tent.

Scottish scenes figured prominently as subjects for Lee, but he also traveled extensively elsewhere in Britain and the continent: Gillingham Mill, Dorset, North Duffield Bridge, Derbyshire, Swiss Bridge, Lynedock, Fulford Park, Exeter, Benmore looking up Glen Dochart, Shattered Oak in Bedfordshire, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, ‘Rock of Gibraltar and Pont du Gard are all examples of this. Lee also spent considerable time at Penshurst, Kent where a number of his paintings originate. His wife Harriet Eves Lee was buried in the churchyard there after her death in 1850.


Many of his works have brought substantial prices when sold in recent times. He had a long career with over 90 identified paintings to his credit, compared to John Constable with only around 20 paintings. However, some recent information has come to light detailing more than 300 of his paintings, suggesting many still reside in private hands or in the unpublished care of museums/National Trust properties. The Constable influence remained throughout his career and he was apparently not tempted to follow the Turner impressionist style, but remained true to his original interests despite the industrial revolution taking place around him.

Lee’s paintings were much in demand during his lifetime, and he was certainly not a poor, struggling artist — he appears to have been fairly well-off at the end of his career. Perhaps another aspect to his painting style and prolific output could have been financial. He knew his market, and painted subjects in the style he knew would be popular.

In the last 15 years of his life, Lee divided his time between Broadgate House, his yacht, and South Africa, where he owned several farms. Lee retired on 1 December 1871 and died and was buried near Wellington in South Africa on 5 June 1879.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Russell 6th Duke of Bedford
6 July 1766 – 20 October 1839


John Russell

John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford known as Lord John Russell until 1802, was a British Whig politician and notably served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the Ministry of All the Talents. He was the father of Prime Minister John Russell, 1st Earl Russell.

Bedford was a younger son of Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock, eldest son and heir of John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford. His mother was Lady Elizabeth, youngest child of Willem van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle and Lady Anne Lennox.

Like most Russells, Bedford was a Whig in politics. He sat as Member of Parliament for Tavistock from 1788 to 1790, and served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the Whig government of 1806–1807. He became, as did many of his party who were strong followers of Bonapartism, opposed to the Peninsular War, believing that it neither could nor should be won. He funded, along with his son, many anti-war publications. Bedford was sworn of the Privy Council in 1806 and appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1830.

Bedford married firstly the Hon. Georgiana Byng, daughter of George Byng, 4th Viscount Torrington, in 1786. They had three sons:

  • Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford
  • Lord George Russell
  • Lord John Russell, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

After Georgiana’s early death in October 1801, Bedford married secondly Lady Georgiana, daughter of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, in 1803. They had ten children, including:

  • Lady Georgiana Elizabeth Russell, married Charles Romilly and had issue
  • Reverend Lord Wriothesley Russell, married Elizabeth Russell, his second cousin once removed, died without issue
  • Admiral Lord Edward Russell, married Mary Ann Taylor and died without issue
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Charles James Fox Russell, married Isabella Davies and had issue
  • Lady Louisa Jane Russell, married James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn and had issue.
  • General Lord Alexander Russell, married Anne Holmes and had issue
  • Lady Rachel Evelyn Russell, married Lord James Butler and had issue.

The Duchess of Bedford was a great patroness of the arts, and had a longstanding relationship with the painter Sir Edwin Landseer, a man twenty years her junior. The Bedfords’ marriage was nevertheless considered to be a very happy one. Bedford died in October 1839, aged 73, and was succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage, Francis. The Duchess of Bedford died in February 1853, aged 71.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Edwin Henry Landseer
7 March 1802 – 1 October 1873


Edwin Landseer

Landseer was born in London, the son of the engraver John Landseer. He was something of a prodigy whose artistic talents were recognised early on. He studied under several artists, including his father, and Benjamin Robert Haydon. Landseer’s life was entwined with the Royal Academy. At the age of just 13 he exhibited works there. He was elected an Associate at the age of 24, and an Academician five years later in 1831. He was knighted in 1850, and although elected President in 1866 he declined the invitation.

In his late 30s Landseer suffered nervous breakdown, and for the rest of his life was troubled by recurring bouts of melancholy, hypochondria, and depression, aggravated by alcohol and drug use. The last few years of his life Landseer’s mental stability was problematic. He was declared insane in July 1872.

Landseer was a notable figure in art, and his works can be found in Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kenwood House and the Wallace Collection in London. He also collaborated with fellow painter Frederick Richard Lee.

Landseer’s reputation as an animal painter was unrivalled. Much of his fame was generated by the publication of engravings of his work, many of them by his brother Thomas.

Reproductions of Landseer’s works were common in middle-class homes, while he was popular with the aristocracy. Queen Victoria commissioned numerous pictures from the artists. Initially asked to paint various royal pets, he then moved on to portraits of ghillies and gamekeepers. Then Victoria commissioned a portrait of herself, as a present for Prince Albert.

Landseer taught both Victora and Albert to etch, and made portraits of Victoria’s children as babies, usually in the company of a dog. He also made two portraits of Victoria and Albert dressed for costume balls, at which he was a guest himself. One of his last paintings was a life-size equestrian portrait of the Queen, shown at the Royal Academy in 1873, made from earlier sketches.

Landseer was associated with Scotland, and the Highlands in particular. The Hunting of Chevy Chase (1825–6) and An Illicit Whiskey Still in the Highlands (1826–9), and his more mature achievements such as the majestic stag study Monarch of the Glen (1851) and Rent Day in the Wilderness (1855–68). In 1828 he was commissioned to produce illustrations for the Waverley Edition of Sir Walter Scott’s novels.


The Hunting of Chevy Chase


An Illicit Whiskey Still in the Highlands


Monarch of the Glen


Rent Day in the Wilderness

The name Landseer came to be the official name for the variety of Newfoundland dog that features a mix of both black and white; it was this variety Landseer popularised in his paintings celebrating Newfoundlands as water rescue dogs. Off to the Rescue (1827), A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society (1838), and Saved (1856).


Off to the Rescue


A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society



Laying Down The Law (1840) satirises the legal profession through anthropomorphism. It shows a group of dogs, with a poodle symbolising the Lord Chancellor.


Laying Down the Law

The Shrew Tamed, entered at the 1861 Royal Academy Exhibition, caused controversy because of its subject matter. It showed a powerful horse on its knees among straw in a stable while a lovely young woman lies with her head pillowed on its flanks. Equestrienne, Ann Gilbert, applying the taming techniques of the famous ‘horse whisperer’ John Solomon Rarey. Some concluded Landseer was referencing the famous courtesan Catherine Walters, then at the height of her fame.


The Shrew Tamed

In 1858 the government commissioned Landseer to make four bronze lions for the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.There was a delay when he asked to be supplied with copies of casts of a real lion he knew were in the possession of the academy at Turin. The casts did not arrive until the summer of 1860. The lions were made at the Kensington studio of Carlo Marochetti. Work was slowed by Landseer’s ill health. The sculptures were installed in 1867.

Landseer’s death on 1 October 1873 was widely marked in England: shops and houses lowered their blinds, flags flew at half-staff, his bronze lions at the base of Nelson’s column were hung with wreaths, and large crowds lined the streets to watch his funeral cortege pass.

Landseer was rumoured to be able to paint with both hands at the same time, for example, paint a horse’s head with the right and its tail with the left, simultaneously. He was also known to be able to paint extremely quickly—when the mood struck him. He could also procrastinate, sometimes for years, over certain commissions.

Read Full Post »