The Fountain: Geneva (1840) by Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73). Source: “Studies and Sketches by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A.” (1875): 225. “Lent by Messrs. Agnew.” [Click on image to enlarge it.] Formatting and text by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Trust and the University of Michigan and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document, or cite it in a print one.]

Commentary in the Art-Journal

To whatever use Landseer applied the sketches he made when visiting Geneva, there is no evidence, so far as our recollection serves, of his ever painting one of them as a subject, picturesque as they unquestionably are. He seems to have made these drawings as much, if not more, for the interest he felt in the scenes than for any implied purpose of transferring them to canvas: and it would also appear that occasionally he made fanciful additions to them, as in ‘The Fountain,’ engraved on this page, from a sketch outlined with a pen and shaded with sepia. These continental fountains are often not only places of refreshment for animals, but of gossip also for those who have charge of the quadrupeds: and here, while a girl has brought her cows to the water, and stands between them with an arm lovingly round the neck of each, a young carter, or driver of some vehicle, leaves his horses to exchange greetings with, or perhaps to pay a pretty compliment to, his female companion at the fount. What seems to us as out of place in the composition are the two deer; whether they are dead or alive it is not easy to determine; presumedly dead, yet if so why are the legs tied up? and how came they at all in such a place and in such company? One can only class this very attractive sketch with the fanciful. [225]


“Studies and Sketches by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A.” Art-Journal (1875): 225-28. Hathi Trust version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 24 March 2014

Last modified 25 March 2014