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Landseer was one of the most popular British painters in the nineteenth century. From the age of thirteen he exhibited drawings of animals at the Royal Academy. He was elected an ARA at the age of twenty-four, becoming an RA five years later. Dignity and Impudence is characteristic of Landseer’s tendency to give human attributes to animals. Landseer contrasts the large, dignified bloodhound with the small, mischievous terrier. These dogs, ‘Grafton’ and ‘Scratch’ were both owned by Landseer’s friend, Jacob Bell, who commissioned the painting.

September 2004