Commissioned by patron Jacob Bell, this scene was intended to be of his mare and her foal. The foal outgrew its mother before Landseer was ready to paint, so the donkey with its rough coat was added to the composition in contrast to the sleekness of the horse. Typical of Landseer’s paintings, the animals show an almost human interest in the farrier’s work.
Sir Edwin Henry Landseer
142 x 112 cm
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 142 x 112 cm
An infant prodigy and the most successful of a large artistic family, Landseer quickly attained social and professional prowess. One of the foremost animal painters, his romantic works appealed to Victorian tastes and he was Queen Victoria’s favourite painter for a while. His reputation later plummeted due to the sentimental, moralistic tone of his work. Dogged by depression after a breakdown in his 30s he eventually completed the sculpture of four magnificent bronze lions for Nelson’s Column in 1860.