{{ currentSlide }} / {{ totalSlides }}

A Deerhound with Two Roe Deer

oil on millboard

48.2 x 60.3 cm

oil on millboard

48.2 x 60.3 cm


Inscribed in chalk ‘Lewis / 108 / May 8/74’, verso



The artist’s studio sale, London Christie’s, 8 May 1874, lot 108 to Agnew’s on behalf of

Charles William Mansel Lewis (1845–1931), Stradey Castle, Llanelly, Carmarthenshire

By descent to Patrick Mansel Lewis, Stradey Castle, Llanelly

Old Masters Evening Sale, London Sotheby’s, 6 December 2017, lot 49

Private collection


(Possibly) London, British Institution, 1826 (as Deerhound and Dead Game)



Algernon Graves, The Works of the late Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., London, 1875, p. 11, no. 123

Sir Edwin Landseer was the most celebrated Victorian painter of animals. His success derived from the strong British tradition of animal and sporting painting and from the way he would often give his subjects human characteristics and emotions. His most famous painting, the Monarch of the Glen, circa 1851, glorifies the noble stag as lord of his demesne, like a Highland chieftain in animal form.

Landseer spent much time in the Scottish Highlands, often staying with important patrons like the Duke of Bedford who owned vast estates and deer forests there. Sir Walter Scott’s novels of Scottish subjects and later Queen Victoria’s love of all things Scottish as well as the arrival of easier access via the railways powerfully boosted the popularity of game hunting in the northern wilds. The present painting is to be associated with Landseer’s travels in Scotland in the 1820s and 1830s. Since the main subject is the animals with the landscape only lightly indicated, it should be classified as a sketch or study which the artist was content to leave unfinished.

In his earlier years, Landseer was much influenced by the lively and fluent technique of Rubens and his pupil, the animal specialist Frans Snyders. This is particularly evident here in the delicately indicated texture of the dog’s coat and the deers’ hide. In addition, the deliberate use of the tawny ground, left in reserve is a characteristic of Rubensian oil sketches which had always been greatly admired. A number of such artfully unfinished oil sketches by Landseer have survived, one of which, also with a Mansel Lewis provenance, was recently sold at Sotheby’s, New York (January 31, 2018, lot 2). The dog in this painting has a soulful expression typical of Landseer, as though even in its role as guardian of the fruits of the chase, it feels some sympathy for the animals’ fate. Like in many of Landseer’s sporting scenes, the painting celebrates hunting as a noble pastime, even a kind of allegory of the endless and inevitable cycle of life and death.

This painting was in Landseer’s studio at his death and was subsequently acquired through Agnews for Charles Mansel Lewis (1845–1931), a Welsh land owner and art collector. It is almost certainly in the original, exceptionally fine frame which was put on it in 1874.

more from this artist