PRINTS AFTER EDWIN LANDSEER.
Tna print-shops are filled with engravings after EDWIN LANDSEER: every one of his pictures finds an eager publisher: besides the prints that have already appeared, there are a score or two more in the en- gravers' hands, of some of which the etchings are exhibited. This harping on one string is wearisome; nor is the sameness of the subjects likely to lessen the monotony. Toujours perdrix is no less cloying to the intellectual taste than the physical palate ; and it is to be feared that the publishers will give the public a surfeit of LANDSEER'S animal food. Whichever way you turn you are dogged by LANDSEER, his horses override all other subjects, and his deer make venison common. "Every dog will have his day," says the proverb, and those of LAND- BEER'S breed deserve to enjoy a long one ; but to have the whole pack let loose on the town at once is too much : meanwhile, as the dog- star rages in the world of art, and the public are bitten with a mania for LANDSEER, it becomes our duty, as critical constables, to clap on the muzzle. It is no security to the public that the animals are often seen in company with little lords and ladies ; this circumstance is only cal- culated to endear the pets to a tufthunting community : not only are the brutes thus put on their best behaviour, but they are sophisticated, and partake of the listless languor and sleek self-complacency of their aristocratic owners. Love me love my dog " is a good precept, but one is apt to grow weary of pets : clipped poodles, combed spaniels, and
groomed nags, are well enough in their places, but one does not want them always in the drawing-room. EDWIN LANDSEER'S own animals are worthy to be introduced anywhere; but the swarms that overrun the town are of a mongrel, not the true race : in plain phrase, the engravings have not the same character as the paintings.
The charm of EDWIN LANDSEER'S pictures consists in the lively ex- pression of the animals, and the wonderful imitation of their external characteristics : they are living, sentient beings on the canvass ; though, like their human associates, they bear the stamp of the artificial world in which they live and move and have their being. Compared with the savage brutes in SNYDERS'S boar-hunts and rtunmues lion-hunts, EDWIN LANDSEER'S animals are tame and spiritless : in fact, he studies them in their domesticated state—as they are seen in the park and the paddock, the stable and the kennel, rather than in the forest or on the plain. As portraits of individual creatures they are inimitable, but they lack permanent interest as representations of the natural character of the race : the bare and the red-deer are perhaps the only animals that he has studied in a state of nature. EDWIN LANDSEER should have been with Captain Hen= in the wilds of Africa, with Mr. CATLIN on the plains of America, or with some other traverser of the hunting- fields where beasts herd unsophisticated by man.
The excellences of EDWIN LANDSEER'S painting, his free and dex- terous handling, the texture of his surfaces, and the vitality of his deline- ations, are necessarily lost in the engraving; nay, even the nicer traits of' character suffer in the ablest translation ; while the interest of the subject, independently of the executive skill of the painter, is in few instances sufficient to make up for the loss. This has not been sufficiently consi- dered in selecting the pictures for engraving ; one might almost doubt if any selection had been made, so indiscriminate seem the subjects. The famous picture, the artist's chef-d'ceuvre, Monks of Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time, is an exception : the scene possesses an historical cha- racter, and recals the past by depicting an incident of not unfrequent occurrence in monastic life—the delivery of a present of venison, game, and fish, to a portly Abbot, from some proud Baron desirous of propitiating the favour of the Church. The Return from Hawking is marred as a picture of an ancient sport, by the lifeless heads of modern aristocracy that are introduced into it : in effect it is merely a group of portraits of Lord and Lady FRANCIS EGERTON and their family in fancy costumes. The Children of the Duke and Dutchess of Sutherland, with their pets. is avowedly a portrait-picture : and a very pretty group it is of the boy and girl playing with their dogs and a tame fawn in the beautiful bower—for all the sedate and joyless face of
the young lady, who while sportively placing a garland on the head of the fawn looks as grave as though she were conning a task. It is the besetting fault of EDWIN LANDSEER to give a still.life inertness to his faces—a characteristic of fashionable society, that he suffers to repress the gayety, animation, and buoyancy of youth. These three prints-
are all masterpieces of SAMUEL COUSINS'S skill in mezzotint; though the artificial character of the last-mentioned is increased by the embroidery- work of the execution. Two admirable studies of canine character, called Dignity and Impudence, represent a noble hound roused up in his kennel by some intruder whom the spiteful little wire-haired terrier by his side is assailing with a snarl that is almost audible : the contrast be- tween the quiet grandeur of the lordly brute, whose eye is kindling, and the pertinacious vehemence of the cur, all nose and eyes, is very striking. The mezzotint, by the painter's brother, is somewhat monotonous in
tone and a-Vim, wanting the vigour and spirit of the etching, in which THomes LANDSEER excels. The most elaborate work of any is the
Highland Drovers, the picture exhibited next after that of Bolton Abbey, if we recollect rightly : it represents the herdsmen departing with *pit droves for the English market. A group composed of an old High- lander, and the wives and families of the drovers, is assembled in front of a hovel, busied in preparations for the journey ; while one young man is taking a parting kiss of his bairn, and another is holding a farewell tryst with the lass of his heart. The cattle are spread out over the plain, which is bounded by mountains; and the mists of morning are just clearing away. The great defect of the picture is the lifeless air of the figures, which do not convey an idea of Highland phy- siognomy or character : indeed, how could they, if the originals were, as was reported at the time, the late Duke of Bedford and some members of his family ? The " spotty " effect, and the want of massing in the groups, are minor faults, that may be overlooked ; but the absence of true national character in a scene of this kind is not to be excused even for the sake of the animals, which are inimitable: we well remember the action of the white pony grazing, in the original picture, though it is not perfectly rendered in the print. The engraving, by Warr, is in the line manner, and in many respects a fine work ; but the monotonous texture in the group of figures is an objection that we would fain have been spared making, inasmuch as it contributes to increase the heaviness of other parts : the oxen and rams, the white pony with his dark pack-saddle, and the hen defending her chickens from the assault of the dog, are, perhaps, the happiest passages of the engraver's skill. We perceived little of that peculiar excellence of line- engraving, the brilliant effect produced by the play of light and dark : but our opinion, it is but fair to state, was formed only from casual glances of the print. We will not attempt to chronicle the various prints in embryo, from Count D'ORSAY'S poodle as Lord Chancellor of the canine court, to Miss POWER, a " gem" of beauty set with lapdogs ; but close this .notice of engravings after EDwrl LANDSEER with the gratifying intel- ligence that the accomplished painter is restored to health and spirits, and able to resume the exercise of his pencil.