|Sir Edwin Landseer's lifelong passion for depicting animals is evident even in his earliest drawings. The Royal Academy's collection of early Landseer drawings features a range of domestic pets, farm stock and wild animals. Landseer and his childhood friend John Frederick Lewis shared an interest in drawing animals and together they visited the Exeter 'Change menagerie in London's Strand. |
This establishment was initially founded in the 17th century as 'Pidcock's Exhibition of Wild Beasts'. During the 19th century the menagerie was a highly popular attraction, frequented by poets, writers and other public figures. It was run by Edward Cross who promoted it as the 'grandest National Depot of Animated Nature in the World...the greatest assemblage of curiosities ever collected together since the days of that primeval collector of natural curiosities, Old Noah'. Visitors could view such curiosities as porcupines, ostriches and boa constrictors alongside lions, tigers, elephants and rhinos. Lewis and Landseer developed a particular fascination for lions and big cats, which became the subject of many of their early drawings and paintings.