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by [?]

The idea of following deer with dogs and guns, simply for the sport of killing them, was repugnant to the soul of this sensitive, tender-hearted man.

In the faces of his deer he put a look of mingled grandeur and pain–a half-pathos, as if foreshadowing their fate.

In picturing the dogs and donkeys, he was full of jest and merriment; but the kings of moor and forest called forth deeper and sadder sentiments.

That wild animals instinctively flee in frenzied alarm at man’s approach is comment enough on our treatment of them.

The deer, so gentle and so graceful, so innocent and so beautiful, are never followed by man except as a destroyer; and the idea of looking down a rifle-barrel into the wide-open, soulful eyes of a deer made Landseer sick at heart.

* * * * *

To Landseer must be given the honor of first opening a friendly communication between the present royal family and the artistic and literary world.

Wild-eyed poets and rusty-looking, impecunious painters were firmly warned away from Balmoral. The thought that all poets and painters were anarchistic and dangerous–certainly disagreeable–was firmly fixed in the heart of the young Queen and her attendants.

The barrier had first been raised to Landseer. He was requested to visit the palace and paint a picture of one of the Queen’s deerhounds. It was found that the man was not hirsute, untamed or eccentric. He was a gentleman in manner and education–quite self-contained and manly.

He was introduced to the Queen; they shook hands and talked about dogs and horses and things, just like old acquaintances. They loved the same things, and so were friends at once. It was not long before Landseer’s near neighbors at Saint John’s Wood were stricken speechless at the spectacle of Queen Victoria on horseback waiting at the door of Landseer’s house, while the artist ran in to change his coat. When he came out he mounted one of the groom’s horses for a gallop across the park with the Queen of England, on whose possessions the sun never sets.

These rides with royalty were, however, largely a matter of professional study; for he not only painted a picture of the Queen on horseback, but of Albert as well. And at Windsor there can now be seen many pictures of dogs and horses painted by Landseer, with nobility incidentally introduced, or vice versa, if you prefer.

It was in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-five that Landseer began to paint the pets of the royal family, and the friendly intimacy then begun continued up to the time of his death in Eighteen Hundred Seventy-three.

In the National Academy are sixty-seven canvases by Landseer; and for the Queen, personally, he completed over one hundred pictures, for which he received a sum equal to a quarter of a million dollars.

Landseer’s career was one of continuous prosperity. In his life there was neither tragedy nor disappointment. His horses and dogs filled his bachelor heart, and when Tray, Blanche and Sweetheart bayed and barked him a welcome to that home in Saint John’s Wood where he lived for just fifty years, he was supremely content.

His fortune of three hundred thousand pounds was distributed at his death, as he requested, among various servants, friends and needy kinsmen.

Landseer had no enemies, and no detractors worth mentioning. That his great popularity was owing to his deference to the spirit of the age goes without saying. He never affronted popular prejudices, and was ever alert to reflect the taste of his patrons. The influence of passing events was strong upon him: the subtlety of Turner, the spiritual vision of Fra Angelico, the sublime quality of soul (that scorned present reward and dedicated its work to time) of Michelangelo were all far from him.

That he at times attempted to be humorous by dressing dogs in coats and trousers with pipe in mouth is to be regretted. A dog so clothed is not funny–the artist is.

The point has also been made that in Landseer’s work there was no progression–no evolution. His pictures of mountain scenery done in Scotland before he was thirty mark high tide. To him never again came the same sweep of joyous spirit or surge of feeling.

Bank-accounts, safety and satisfaction are not the things that stir the emotions and sound the soul-depths. Landseer never knew the blessing of a noble discontent. But he contributed to the quiet joy of a million homes; and it is not for us to say, “It is beautiful; but is it art?” Neither need we ask whether the name of Landseer will endure with those of Raphael and Leonardo. Edwin Landseer did a great work, and the world is better for his having lived; for his message was one of gentleness, kindness and beauty.