Friday, January 7, 2011

Pets of the Belle Époque: "The Connoisseurs" by Sir Edwin Landseer, 1865

The Connoisseurs:
Portrait of the Artist with Two Dogs
Sir Edwin Landseer,
The Royal Collection
Throughout our many visits to the work of celebrated painter and favorite of Queen Victoria, we’ve looked at his masterful paintings of both humans and their animal companions. However, we have not stopped to consider Landseer himself. His skill in painting animals is widely known. So, it’s only appropriate that in painting a self-portrait as a gift for King Edward VII, Landseer would flank his own image with that of two dogs. I’m not quite sure if these two dogs were his own companions, but I like the idea that they are the truest connoisseurs of his art. Landseer’s sense of humor keenly shows in this picture.

Despite his great talent and success, Landseer was often plagued by long periods of depression and hypochondria. Just before his death in 1873, his family declared him insane. Regardless of the melancholy that haunted him, he created exceptional works of art which are highly regarded to this day.

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