The Shepherd's Chief Mourner

After Sir Edwin Henry Landseer British
Engraver Benjamin Phelps Gibbon British, born Wales
Publisher Francis Graham Moon British

Not on view

Gibbon's print is based upon one of Landseer's most celebrated paintings which was exhibited to great acclaim at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 1837 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The simple subject of a sheep dog resting its head on the coffin of its master in a rustic interior was immensely popular. The influential art critic John Ruskin (1819–1900) considered the work one of the ''most perfect poems...which modern times have seen.'' This single-sheet print, issued just a year after the painting's debut, is perhaps the best known, and one of several published examples. These range greatly in size and medium, and include wood-engravings as well as other mixed method prints published in the 1860s. Following Landseer's death the weekly newspaper ''Illustrated London News'' produced a double-page supplement in tribute to him on October 11, 1873 and chose this sentimental scene as the subject.

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