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QUEEN VICTORIA AND SIR EDWIN LANDSEER
from Dog Painting, 1840-1940, A Social History of the Dog in Art
by William Secord

By this time the castle at Windsor, which had once been a country retreat for the Royal Family, had become too convenient to London. Windsor had evolved into an extension of the court life of London and did not provide any real privacy or break for the Queen and her family. The couple was looking for a place which might provide a respite from the whirl of court activities and political intrigues which were for them a daily routine. It was a fortuitous turn of events when in 1847 Sir Robert Gordon, tenant of Balmoral, died. The Prince bought the lease on the house, first visiting on September 8, 1848. Balmoral was, wrote the prince, "a complete mountain solitude, where one rarely sees a human face, where the snow already covers the mountain tops and the wild deer come creeping around the house."

Balmoral, which itself became too small as the Royal family grew, was bought with its 1,700 acres from the Earl of Fife in 1842. The new, enlarged castle was designed by the Prince himself, and was started in September of 1853.

It was in the Scottish Highlands that many of Landseer's most popular scenes were painted. The artist had been visiting Scotland since 1824 when at a young age he had gone to visit Sir Walter Scott. The artist continued to visit Scotland, going virtually every year thereafter. Inspired by the breathtaking landscape and the vigorous lifestyle of the Scottish highlands, his sojourns must have provided a much needed respite from the hurried pace of London. Landseer depicted the hunt in all its aspects in great detail, and completed quite a few dog portraits per se. Many watercolors were completed which depicted Royal life in the Highlands. These were often brought back home to Windsor to be fitted into large albums.

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