Edwin Landseer - Attachment

by Alexandra Tuschka


"No painting without a dog" - seems to have been the motto of the English painter Edwin Landseer. Just 27 years old, he painted this painting, which illustrates a poem by the Scotsman Sir Walter Scott. In it, a dog guards the body of its owner for three months after he has fallen off a cliff. All the time that the body was not discovered, the dog stayed with the dead man and drove away the crows and foxes that approached him.

Landseer exaggerates the scene by humanizing the dog. Sadly, the latter seems to be shaking or petting the dead man with its paw. The height of the fall is also exaggerated by the low placement of the man in the lower part of the picture and the misty cleft in the background. The sky is darkened, supporting the drama of the scene. Although you can see the uncomfortable posture of the man, whose legs are between the rocks - he still appears almost covered. The faithful dog, however, sits on the dead man's arm and nestles against him. He also serves as a figure of identification for the viewer. By directly acting out his emotions, man can also directly empathize with the grief.


This human and emotional interpretation of the dogs is typical of Landseer's work, who had a pronounced soft spot for animals. Later, even a sub-breed of Newfoundland dog was to be named after the painter, as he was the first to capture this particular type of dog on canvas.


Edwin Landseer - Attachment

Oil on canvas, 1829, 101.3 x 83.5 cm, Saint Louis Art Museum in Saint Louis, Missouri