A Race-Course by Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73). Source: “Studies and Sketches by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A.” (1875): 225. “Lent by Mrs. Noseda.” [Click on image to enlarge it.] Formatting and text by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Trust and the University of Michigan and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document, or cite it in a print one.]

Commentary in the Art-Journal

This engraving is . . . from sketch as completely out of Landseer's line, one would naturally say, as would be the ‘Virgin in the Clouds,’ or any other kindred subject. The drawing is very little larger than the engraved copy, and is executed with chalk, apparently rubbed in with the finger, pen and ink being used to express forms both in the foreground and in the distance: little spots of colour are “dubbed,” as it were, on some of the figures, which are most undefined in drawing, as in fact is the whole landscape. The charm of the sketch is found in the sky, which has a most magical effect; a heavy cloud passes in front of a soft misty stretch of sunlight, producing a result equally singular and beautiful, and far beyond the power of any wood-engraving to imitate, though we give a near approach to it in our example. Where Landseer made his sketch is uncertain, but that it is intended to represent a race of some kind is evident enough by the demonstrations of the crowd of people in the foreground. Then there is the difficulty of determining whether the race is on land or water: there are shadowy objects which might serve to support either theory, yet nothing that can be accepted as decisive, unless the distant church may be so regarded, and this is suggestive of the locality being the race-course at Doncaster. [225-26]


“Studies and Sketches by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A.” Art-Journal (1875): 225-28. Hathi Trust version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 24 March 2014

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Last modified 25 March 2014