Sir Edwin Henry Landseer RA RI: Man Proposes, God Disposes, 1877
The Royal Holloway Collection, University of London
Based on the real incident of the loss of Sir John Franklin's expedition to find a North-West Passage, in 1845, Landseer's painting illustrates the futility of human effort in the face of the destructive forces of nature. Two polar bears, their fierce and brutal natures uncompromisingly portrayed, tear up the remnants of the expedition.
Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) was born in London. He first exhibited works at the Royal Academy in 1815, at the precocious age of 13. He was elected RA in 1831. Further honours followed - he was knighted in 1850 and in 1866 was elected President of the Royal Academy, a position which he declined to accept.
Landseer became famous for his pictures of horses, dogs and stags, many of them later engraved
by his brother Thomas Landseer.
He also designed the huge lions at the base of Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square. In 1868, when the lions were set up, there was a chorus of disapproval, with it being declared that the lion on top of Northumberland House would not acknowledge the new lions as being in any way related.
"Dignity and Impudence".
In this painting Lanseer makes an apt and witty contrast between a magnificently impassive bloodhound and a cheeky little Scotch terrier.
This charming little portrait was presented by Victoria to Albert before their marriage.