Lot 5
  • 5

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, R.A.

20,000 - 30,000 GBP
18,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, R.A.
  • west end fair: monkeys and dogs performing on a stage
  • inscribed l.r.: West End Fair

  • oil on board
  • 26 by 35.5 cm.; 10 ¼ by 14 in.


Foster's, London, where bought by Sir David Scott for £5


London, Royal Academy, Landseer Exhibition, 1961, no. 4

Catalogue Note

'A typical little sketch of performing animals by Landseer, the great animal painter. A monkey and a dog dance together, while other dogs and monkeys wait "in the wings". West End is high up in Hampstead and in the distance you can see the Dome of St. Paul's. I think the pink skirt of the dancing poodle is rather attractive.' Sir David Scott.

'West End Lane, an excellent way out of London to the north, runs up Golder's Green direction and in the distance in this picture you can see the dome of St Pauls. This is a typical Landseer with its inevitable splash of red and the dancing animals are amusingly charming. The picture was shown in a Landseer exhibition in the Academy and stood up quite well among his more ambitious works. It is one of the first pictures for which I left a bid, £5. I get a lot of pleasure from it. It is so very dated.' Sir David Scott

The West End Fair, from which the painting takes its subject, was a three day toy and gingerbread fair held in high summer near Hampstead. Originating in the late eighteenth century, by 1802 it was a genteel affair attended by 'all the beauty and fashion of the place' and furnished by the local ladies' charity with 'the most brilliant and tasteful bijoux' (The Times, 27 July 1802). The Fair, which gradually became associated with the Cock and Hoop public house, was held regularly up to around 1820, from whence it fell into abeyance, only to be resurrected sporadically until the close of the century.

From an early age Landseer showed an interest in wild animals. He studied them at menageries, and he and his brother Thomas collaborated on a set of engravings of animal subjects. Both Edwin and his brother were particularly intrigued by monkeys, which were a common sight in the early nineteenth century at fairs and on the streets, and both artists were strongly influenced by earlier paintings of monkeys by Hondius and Teniers. Edwin painted several monkey subjects in the 1820s, including The Cat's Paw (1824) and The Travelled Monkey (1827) while Thomas Landseer etched a group of grotesque monkey subjects entitled 'Monkeyana', satirising man's vices. This lively study belongs with this group but it avoids the savage cruelty of The Cat's Paw and shows the monkeys in a humorous mood.