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Landseer was the most brilliant and famous animal painter of his era. He was a child prodigy who was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1826, aged only twenty four, and full Academician in 1831, when not yet thirty.
Robinson Crusoe was painted when Landseer was twenty-five. Despite this, his characteristic painting technique seems to have reached maturity. He uses broad, confident brushstrokes to describe the men and their animals. This was one of the first novels ever written, and has until this day, struck the imagination of many young men and women.
Landseer, throughout his career, moved freely in aristocratic circles. After 1836, he enjoyed royal patronage, especially in the 1840's when Victoria and Albert discovered Scotland. He paid his first visit to their home, Balmoral in 1850 to paint a large group portrait of the royal family. He was knighted that year despite the painting being unfinished. The following year he painted The Monarch of the Glen, which became a national icon. Ten years later, in the 1860's he was given the commission to model the lions at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. They were unveiled in 1867, and are now seen as some of the finest animal sculptures in the world.
Landseer's executors' sale, Christies, May 8th 1874, lot 120, sold 60 gns
London, Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, 1874, Landseer Memorial Exhibition, number 264
Cabel Scholefield Mann, The Works of Sir Edwin Landseer, Royal Academy, 1874
Algernon Graves, Catalogue of the Works of the late Sir Edwin Landseer, RA, London 1876, page 12