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
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.