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Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, 1802–1873, British

Favourites, the Property of H.R.H. Prince George of Cambridge

1834 to 1835
Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 40 x 49 1/2 inches (101.6 x 125.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
animals | birds | dog (animal) | door | feather | hawk | horse (animal) | hunting | interior | property | reins | saddle | sporting art | stairs | whip
Associated Places:
Cambridge | Cambridgeshire | England | Europe | United Kingdom | Windsor Castle
Not on view

Prince George of Cambridge (1819–1904) was first cousin to the future Queen Victoria, and the only surviving grandson of George III and Queen Charlotte. As such, he was considered to be a close contender for the English throne. These animals, sensitively captured by Edwin Henry Landseer, the leading animal painter of his generation, belonged to George, who was fifteen when the painting was completed. The group includes a princely white pony, a trio of falcons, and two dogs—the larger one being a Newfoundlander, a breed that is also known as a “Landseer,” and of which Victoria herself was very fond. All three kinds of animals would have played important roles not only as personal pets but in George’s training in the gentlemanly activities of riding, hawking, and hunting. The royal residence of Windsor Castle can be seen in the distance, through the open door.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Prince George of Cambridge (1819–1904), who was fourteen or fifteen in 1834, was a first cousin of the future Queen Victoria and, at his birth, the only surviving grandson of King George iii. He was therefore of some dynastic importance during his childhood. In 1830, Prince George was sent to live at Windsor Castle with his childless uncle and aunt, King William iv and Queen Adelaide. The prince’s pony, dogs, and falcons await his return (a carelessly discarded glove and the game pouch slung over the balustrade indicate that he has already been here, and is still getting ready to go hawking in the park). Through the door is a distant view toward Windsor Castle. Landseer painted black-and-white Newfoundland dogs like Prince George’s so ably and often that the variety became known as the “Landseer,” a name still in common use. In adult life, Prince George went on to become commander-in-chief of the British army.

Gallery label for An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)
At the time he commissioned from Landseer this portrait of his gray Arabian stallion Selim, his Newfoundland dog Nelson, his King Charles spaniel Flora, and his peregrine falcons, seen here hooded and ready to be put through their paces at Windsor, the sixteen-year-old Prince George of Cambridge was of considerable dynastic importance. His uncle and aunt, King William IV and Queen Adelaide, with whom he spent long periods at court at Windsor, were childless, and even though Prince George's father, Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, who acted as his brother's viceroy in the tiny German kingdom of Hanover, was the tenth child and seventh son of George III and Queen Charlotte, there were few legitimate male grandchildren of George III. Apart from his cousin Princess Victoria of Kent, heir presumptive to the throne, who, though tiny, was not particularly delicate, relatively few steps separated the young man from the throne of England. An alternative idea that was seriously entertained by King William was that Prince George would make a splendid husband and consort for Princess Victoria. They were almost exactly the same age, but in due course neither relished the prospect of marriage to the other.

Owing to Salic laws of succession in continental Europe (that is, the mandatory inheritance of the throne by the nearest male heir), after the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, the crowns of Britain and Hanover were separated almost 125 years after they were first united under King George I. Thenceforth, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, another of the new queen's many Hanoverian uncles, reigned as King of Hanover. With no further need for a viceroy in Hanover, the Cambridge family returned to England, and Prince George joined the British army, enjoying a distinguished career and eventually retiring with the rank of field marshal and commander-in-chief. Conforming to the manners of the previous generation, in 1840 Prince George contracted a morganatic marriage to an actress, Louisa, Miss Fairbrother, for whom he provided a house in Queen Street, Mayfair, where she settled comfortably as "Mrs. Fitzgeorge" and produced three sons.

This painting was engraved by W. Giller in 1841 and lithographed by Lafosse.

Angus Trumble

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy: a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 36, 293-4, no 109, fig. 10, pl. 109, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Prince George of Cambridge, aged fifteen or sixteen at the time of this painting, was a first cousin of the future Queen Victoria. The prince's pony, dogs, and falcons seem to await his arrival from the door on the left, presumably to go out hawking in the royal park at Windsor; through the door is a distant view of Windsor Castle. Landseer painted black-and-white Newfoundland dogs like Prince George's so ably and often that the variety became known as the "Landseer," a name still in common use. Despite his skill in painting animals, Landseer was not a favorite artist of Paul Mellon, who disliked his sentimentality and anthropomorphism; in this case the mitigating circumstance was probably the setting at Windsor, a place dear to him from his childhood.

Malcolm Warner

Warner, Malcolm and John Baskett. The Paul Mellon Bequest: Treasures of a Lifetime. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 2001, p. 39

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 36, 293-4, no 109, fig. 10, pl. 109, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

J. Batty, Landseer's animal illustrations, Nimrod, Alton, Hampshire, England, 1990, p. 87, NJ18 L244 B27 1990 (YCBA)

Christie's Sale Catalogue : 21 November 1986, Christie's, 1986, no. 29, Sales Catalogues (YCBA)

Christie's sale catalogue: Catalogue of the Highly Important Collection of Pictures and Historical Portraits of the Early English School : 11 June 1904, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, June 11, 1904, p.6, Lot 25, Fiche B51, Fiche# 1058 (YCBA) Also available on line : Art Sales Catalogues Online - Lught 62416

Exhibition Catalogue. 1835. 67th., Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, no. 67, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1835, p. 17, no. 303, N5054 A53 v. 4 (YCBA)

Algernon Graves, Catalogue of the works of the late Sir Edwin Landseer, dedicated by special permission to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen , Henry Graves & Co., London, 1874, p. 18, ND497 L26 G7 1874 (YCBA RARE BOOKS)

Campbell Lennie, Landseer, the Victorian paragon , Hamish Hamilton, London, 1976, p. 97, NJ18 L244 L45 (YCBA)

James Alexander Manson, Sir Edwin Landseer, R. A., W. Scott Publishing Co., London New York, 1902, WB 18411 (LSF - MUDD)

Scott McDougall, Sir Edwin Landseer, R. A., G. Bell & Sons, London, 1907, J18 L239 903Sb (SML)

John Guille Millais, The life and letters of Sir John Everett Millais, president of the Royal Academy, Methuen & co., ltd., London, 1899, NJ18 M61 M55 1899 (YCBA)

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

Duncan Robinson, At home to sporting art : the Brick House, Essays of Friends of British Sporting Art, no. 33, The British Sporting Art Trust, Summer 1997, pp. 6,7, N8250 .B751 (YCBA)

Frederic George Stephens, Memoirs of Sir Edwin Landseer, a sketch of the life of the artist : illustrated with reproductions of twenty-four of his most popular works , G. Bell & Sons, London, 1874, pp. 95, 153, NJ18 L244 S74 1874 (YCBA)

Frederic George Stephens, Sir Edwin Landseer, Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, London, 1881, Fiche N.4.2.572 (SML) Hard copy in poor condition availbale at LSF - WB 19504;

Malcolm Warner, The Paul Mellon Bequest : treasures of a lifetime, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 39, N5247 M385 P28 2001 (YCBA)

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