Exhibited in London as part of Christie’s 250th anniversary celebrations, this iconic work could find a permanent home in the National Galleries of Scotland
First sold by Christie’s 100 years ago, The Monarch of the Glen (circa 1849-51) by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, R.A. (1802-1873) could find a permanent home in the National Galleries of Scotland, providing sufficient funds are raised. Were the iconic piece to be secured, it would pass into public hands for the first time in its history.
The Monarch of the Glen was originally commissioned in 1849 for the Refreshment Room in the House of Lords. In the above video Game of Thrones actor James Cosmo reads from The Legends of Glenorchay, which accompanied the painting when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1851, while Peter Brown, specialist in 19th-Century and Victorian Pictures, tells the story behind ‘one of the great masterpieces of British art’ — a majestic stag posed before a Scottish mountain landscape, monarch of all he surveys. Currently exhibited as part of Christie’s 250th anniversary celebrations, the work is to be on view at Christie’s Hong Kong (24-28 November).
Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie's Global President, commented: 'This superb painting was purchased from Christie's in 1916, and it is fitting that exactly 100 years later, in our 250th year, it has the opportunity to find its permanent home in the National Galleries of Scotland.'
The Monarch of the Glen was purchased from the artist soon after its first exhibition by the sportsman Lord Londesborough for 350 guineas. It was later offered at Christie’s on three occasions: first by his widow, Lady Otho Fitzgerald, in 1884 for 6,200 guineas; then again in 1892 for 6,900 guineas, with other notable works by the artist that had been acquired by H. W. Eaton, Lord Cheylesmore; and lastly exactly one century ago, in 1916, when it was bought by Sir Thomas Dewar, of John Dewar & Sons, one of Scotland’s largest whisky companies.
Inspired by his first visit to the Highlands in 1824, Landseer spent much time hunting and shooting in Scotland, staying with Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford, where he was a popular guest of his wealthy patrons and the royal family. Landseer began painting narrative scenes, vivid landscape sketches and deer subjects, for which he would become famous.
His artistic vision reflected his connection with nature, as well as his romantic notion of life and sport in the Highlands. With The Monarch of the Glen Landseer elevates animal painting to high art, creating a grandiose canvas that celebrates the splendour of both the stag and the landscape it inhabits.