Queen Victoria's Dogs and Parrot by Sir Edwin Landseer, RA 1802-1873. c.1833-1834. Oil on panel, signed with monogram. 25 x 30 inches.
Commentary by Christopher Forbes
Queen Victoria's Favorite Dogs and Parrot or The Royal Pets, as it is sometimes known, is a reduced replica of the picture of the same title exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1838 (Royal Collection). This was the first Academy exhibition that Victoria viewed as Queen, her uncle, William IV, having died shortly after the opening of the 1837 exhibition. The Queen was already familiar with Landseer's work. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, had presented her with a portrait of her spaniel, "Dash," two years earlier. Landseer was to become a favorite, frequent guest, and occasional painting instructor to the Queen and the Prince Consort.
The composition of Queen Victoria's Favorite Dogs and Parrot is centered around the be- ribboned "Dash". Lying on a velvet covered footstool, he is surrounded by "Hester," "Nero," and "Lorey," the last named being the Duchess of Kent's parrot and the subject of an additional portrait presented by the Queen to her mother, also in 1838. While Landseer has not endowed these creatures with specifically human characteristics, as he was to do in many of his most amous pictures, such as Dignity and Impudence exhibited at the British Institution in 1831 (Tate Gallery), there is a suggestion of the animals' mental activity which makes Landseer's painting quite different from, say, portraits of horses by George Stubbs (1724-1806). The dogs are not only beautiful, but also alert, sensitive, and intelligent; each is shown in a separate position and in an attitude that seems to reflect his own dividual state of mind. . . . The image of "Dash," regally perched on his stool, became a popular needlework subject throughout the balance of Queen Victoria's reign [p. 82]
Forbes, Christopher. The Royal Academy Revisited (1837-1901). Ed. and intro. Alen Staley. Catalogue of exhibitions at Princeton University and the Mteropolitan Museum of Art. [New York: Forbes Magazine Collection, 1975.].
Last modified 21 December 2001