Edward Henry Landseer (1802-1873), is generally considered one of the finest animal painters of the Victorian age. He certainly was the Queen’s favorite, and one of his contemporary critics called him the “Shakespeare of animal expression.” His works were and are so loved that they were massively copied in the form of paintings, engravings, and needlework.
Landseer’s beautiful (and life-size) painting depicting the Newfoundland, “Bob,” was created in the 1830s and is known world-wide. It’s title, “A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society,” is a reflection of the artist’s concern regarding animal welfare, an issue that was just beginning to be recognized in the early 19th century. Landseer’s painting was extensively damaged by flooding in 1928 at London’s Tate Gallery. It was not fully restored until 2002 and had not, for those 74 years, been seen by the public until then.
The story of Bob is fascinating, though it may be more of a story than the reality. It was said that Bob was rescued from a shipwreck off the English coast and then became a national hero by patrolling the waterfront and saving 23 people from drowning over his lifetime. It was also said that for his service he was declared a distinguished member of the Royal Humane Society and given a medal as well as free food in his retirement.
It’s easy to see that this rendition of the famous painting was created by a skilled and talented artist. The Newfoundland’s head is particularly well done. The artist, E. Grimwood, used a very fine charcoal pencil to create this drawing. He also used white india ink to highlight areas of the dog’s fur. The work was done on a light gray paper that was made for pastel drawings. It is signed in the lower right corner, but the artist does not appear to have exhibited.
The drawing is mounted in its original hand-cut mat that was edged in gold leaf. Its original oak frame retains its original hand-blown, bubbled glass.
The condition of the drawing itself is excellent. The mat has developed some overall age spotting. However, I left it because the spots are faint and do not detract from its overall decorative value. Also, the original mat is part of the character of the picture. There is no insect damage or other flaws. The condition of the frame is excellent. It appears to have been ebonized at some time.
It measures 28-5/8 inches wide by 22-3/4 inches high, including the frame.
Victorian 19th Century Charcoal Drawing of a Newfoundland Dog after Landseer