Charles William Mansel Lewis (1845–1931), Stradey Castle, Llanelly, Carmarthenshire;
Thence by descent.
Though many of these paintings are sporting groups which include portraits of Landseer's aristocratic friends and patrons, not all of them are, and the present study, like the latter, is one of a range of pictures which promoted the image and ethos of the Highlands for its own sake. In a variation on the them, as opposed to red stags, here the dead game are a pair of roe deer, a buck and a doe, their bodies entwined in death, the bucks head hanging limp over a rock. The composition emphasises the pathos of the quarry; a characteristic trait in Landseer's dark romantic vision of Highland sport. The sketch relates closely to several other depictions of dead roe deer, including Ptarmigan and Roebuck (Art Institute of Chicago) and Young Roebuck and Rough Hounds (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).
The focus of the picture, however, is the beautifully characterised deerhound, faithfully watching over his master’s quarry, which is painted with an innate sympathy and handled with a magnificent virtuosity that delineates every hair of its rough coat. Landseer’s dog paintings of the 1830s constitute one of the high points of his art and the image of the dog that Landseer portrayed have parallels in contemporary literature; particularly the work of Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens, in whose novels dogs feature largely as creatures of feeling and intelligence. Both Landseer and Scott owned deerhounds themselves and the breed were a particular favourite of the artist, both for their working abilities and their association with the chivalric world of the past.
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