Rare early portrait of Sir Edwin Landseer at work comes to light

A very rare early portrait of Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873), arguably England’s greatest ever animal painter, has recently been brought to light by Bagshawe Fine Art after more than 100 years of obscurity. Painted by Landseer’s close friend and fellow artist John Hayter (1800-1895) and exhibited at the British Institution in 1830, the picture depicts a 20-year-old Landseer hard at work on his renowned canvas of The Larder Invaded (1822; now lost), seen unfinished on an easel in front of him.

Hayter’s painting is an unusual and welcome representation of Landseer in his youth. Virtually all extant portraits in oil of Landseer depict him at a much later stage of his life and career when he was already well-established; Hayter’s picture shows him as a very young man just starting out and for whom fame was still (but fast) approaching. In fact, Interior of a Painter’s Study was exhibited in the same year that Landseer was elected a full Royal Academician, and the painting may have been put forward for exhibition by Hayter in recognition of that event. Providing the glimpse that it does into the working practices of one of nineteenth-century Britain’s most revered artists, it is an invaluable historical document.