When considering the career of this highly respected painter, one immediately remembers his most famous painting of all - The Monarch of the Glen. Whilst being an exceptional piece, there are many other significant works from his career that can be considered its equal. There was also an additional sphere to his oeuvre which focused on the ruling monarchy of the time. These paintings opened doors to his career as well as leaving behind some charming portraits of key figures from this era. It also ensured that Landseer's paintings will always remain in the public conscience, even if his artistic style falls out of fashion.
The artist became very close with Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. She considered him a particularly clever artist and commissioned him to produce a portrait of her husband's dog, Eos. To be invited into the personal world of this ruling couple was a rare privilege and their relationship continued for many years, with the artist being given many more projects from there on in. They trusted him, and hugely respected his work. Indeed, Prince Albert was known to have been delighted with his gifted portrait of Eos, his greyhound. This connection to the monarchy also brought about Landseer’s time working in the Scottish highlands, which again added an extra inspiration to his work and supplied an additional genre of work to his final oeuvre.
In a form of propaganda, long before the arrival of the modern media, Landseer was used by Queen Victoria to improve and develop her public image within Scotland. She understood the immediacy and accessibility of his paintings, and that Scottish themes alongside her own image could help to encourage others within the nation to embrace her rule with a greater passion. The Monarch of the Glen remains his signature painting and perfectly captures his work within the UK. Few British artists have managed to capture the beauty of the natural world or the animal world as well as Landseer, but some of his greatest works have similar qualities to the extraordinary accuracy of George Stubbs, who himself gave us the enchanting Whistlejacket. If we look at the most famous British artists, no-one has quite the same content as that found in Landseer's paintings - Gainsborough combined portraits and landscapes, whilst Turner and Constable just concerned themselves with landscapes and seascapes.
Landseer was held in popular regard by the public throughout the majority of his career, even though he came under attack from academics from time time. A number of engravings of his most famous paintings allowed his reputation to spread beyond the British boundaries and his connection to the ruling Monarchy immediately stirred interest. This is an artist who pricked interest across the pond in the US, who traditionally have followed many of the most famous British painters. In recent years he has received a number of exhibitions devoted to his career in both nations, with the inherent themes of the British landscape, animals and also the ruling powers of Victorian Britain being of interest to a great many. Even today, his career is famous for these specific topics and the addition of his work for Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square ensures that his reputation shows little sign of waning any time soon.