Thursday, September 5, 2013

Painting of the Day: Lady Blessington's Dog - The Barrier, 1832

Lady Blessington's Dog -- The Barrier
Sir Edwin Landseer, 1832
The Victoria & Albert Museum 
Click to Enlarge

Painted in 1832, this comic scene is the work of Sir Edwin Henry Landseer—celebrated for his intelligent portrayals of animals and a favorite painter of Queen Victoria. 

The scene depicts a mother cat separated from her kitten by a large dog who, knowingly, blocks the mother from the staircase upon which her baby has climbed.  Landseer often showed animals in comical scenes, sometimes for allegorical purposes, and sometimes just for the sheer joy and beauty of it.

This painting was commissioned by Lady Blessington and depicts her beloved dog. The dog had been given to Lady Blessington by the King of Naples.  When the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1833, it was accompanied with the following lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth act I scene 7: 'Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would"/Like the poor cat I' the adage'.

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