The Defeat of Comus
In 1843 Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, commissioned a number of painters to decorate a small garden pavilion in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The artists were to select scenes from the masque Comus by the seventeenth-century poet John Milton, and subjects from the work of the Romantic novelist and poet Walter Scott. Like Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery (see Lear and Cordelia displayed above) it was hoped that the project would help encourage British history painting. This is Edwin Landseer's preliminary sketch, showing the rout of Comus and his company of revellers. The pavilion was pulled down in 1928.
A Dialogue at Waterloo
This painting underlines the seemingly inexhaustible interest in commemorating the Napoleonic Wars. The whimsical scene, invented by the artist, shows Wellington, who was commander-in-chief of the Allied forces, returning to the battlefield of Waterloo with his daughter-in-law. Wellington himself disliked any attempt to paint the battle as he felt such images would inevitably fall short of the event itself.
John Ballantyne's Sir Edwin Henry Landseer
Landseer is shown working in the studio of Baron Marochetti on the clay models that he created for the bronze lions in Trafalgar Square. Ballantyne had to withdraw the painting from exhibition in 1865 because Landseer was furious with him - the lions would not be formally unveiled for another two years and Landseer did not wish for them to be displayed (or in any other way recorded) in their unfinished state. Ballantyne later altered the painting so that the lions more closely resembled the finished bronzes cast by Marochetti.
Landseer's dog paintings of the 1830s are among his most popular works. About half consist of commissioned, life-size 'portraits', the rest are independent subjects, smaller in scale and usually with a narrative content.