Power and Majesty: Sir Edwin Henry Landseer's Royal Equine Portrait

  • April 22, 2017 10:01

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This incredible portrait was commissioned as a Royal gift from Princess Charlotte to her lady-in-waiting, Lady Barbara Ponsonby.
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

Strength. Agility. Elegance. No other animal has shaped the course of history like the horse. Domesticated approximately 6,000 years ago, the horse gave humanity a new way to interact with the world around them. By harnessing this amazing creature’s speed, power and genteel nature, people were able to travel great distances, conquer new territories and work the land in ways never-before possible. It is this legendary power and spirit that English animal portraitist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer captured in every masterpiece he composed.

Painted when Landseer was just 22 years old, this portrait marked the beginning of his career as a favorite of the Royal Family, particularly Queen Victoria.
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

The son of an accomplished engraver, Landseer demonstrated a gift for painting at an early age, showcasing his first works at the prestigious Royal Academy at just 13 years old. It was also at this early stage in the artist’s career that his brilliance in portraying animals became clear. His undeniable talents soon attracted the attentions of the Royal family, with whom Landseer would remain a favorite, especially to Queen Victoria.

At the age of 22, Landseer was commissioned by Princess Charlotte, daughter of King George III, to paint Portrait of an Arab Mare with her Foal as a gift to her lady-in-waiting, Lady Barbara Ponsonby.

The artist dutifully captures the mare and her foal at a watering hole, her divine white coloring contrasting with her offspring’s rich mahogany coat, as they gaze at the viewer with a guarded curiosity. The anatomy of Landseer’s subjects is precisely executed and clearly well researched, as it is well known the artist participated in scientific dissections early in his artistic training to better understand animal musculature.

Exhibited at the Royal Academy and held within Ponsonby’s family for generations, this masterpiece is one of the handful of the artist’s major works available for acquisition. Its undeniable beauty, rarity and provenance make it one of the most important animal portraits to come on the market in decades. 

Landseer’s paintings, including the 40 he would execute for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, are found in prestigious art collections throughout the world, including Buckingham Palace, the Wallace Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Within every painting, each brushstroke conveys the artist’s unwavering adoration of and unquestionable genius for portraying the loyalty, beauty and power of this grand animal.

Learn more about this important Landseer portrait.

About M.S. Rau Antiques:
M.S. Rau Antiques has spent over 100 years earning the trust of discerning collectors world-wide. Located in the heart of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, our peerless showroom houses one of the world’s most extensive and stunning collections of important fine art by artists such as Monet and van Gogh, rare 18th-and 19th-century antiques and breathtaking jewelry, including rare colored diamonds.

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