Single sheet, (27 x 42 inches). Fine engraving showing stags (small indentation on lower margin).
?First edition. Sir Edwin Landseer rose to fame in the 1840s and 1850s, largely due to the publication of prints based on his paintings of deer. This particular scene shows a confrontation between two stags in the Scottish Highlands, the victor braying to the sky, and the other yielding on the ground, as three does look on from afar. “Landseer had close links with the sphere of zoological art through his friendship with [Joseph] Wolf and through the activities of his own brothers, Charles and Thomas Landseer, both of whom were occasionally employed as illustrators of popular books on natural history. However, his paintings had a scale, dramatic power and imaginative exaltation that set them apart from such works. They were history paintings, but of a completely original kind, in the sense that they invested the lives of animals themselves with tragic grandeur. That this could be done so convincingly is itself evidence of great changes in attitudes to nature in the nineteenth century: the profound philosophical implications of the discoveries in geology, paleontology and evolutionary theory which I have outlined placed animals at the forefront of consciousness. As a writer in the London Quarterly Review put it in 1874, Landseer painted ‘the poetry of animal life, running so curiously parallel to the poetry of human life’ (Diana Donald, Picturing Animals in Britain, 1750-1850, p. 94).