Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A. 1802 - 1873
Sheet of drawings of male heads
Photo: R.A.
© Royal Academy of Arts, London
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Sheet of drawings of male heads, ca.1810-12
Pencil on cream laid paper, 9.1 X 15 cm
Given by Sir John Aird, 1883
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Sir Edwin Landseer began to draw at a very young age and most of his early drawings are of animals. However, he also sketched buildings, landscapes, figures and other subjects. According to theVictorian art critic James Dafforne, visitors to the 1874 Landseer exhibition at the Royal Academy were surprised to find that the display of the artist's early drawings featured not only sketches of animals but also of 'figures, landscapes and architectural 'bits' '.

As a student of Benjamin Robert Haydon from 1815 and at the RA schools from August 1816, Landseer also studied anatomy, life-drawing and Greek and Roman sculpture. He became an accomplished portraitist in later years although he was never enthusiastic about this genre. As the artist explained to the Duke of Devonshire in 1854, he was only interested in portraits when 'combined with the picturesque or with a sort of Story'.