Monday 7 November 2011

Lanny and the Lion

"Landseer was a most delightful person, and the best company that can be imagined. My father and mother were quite devoted to him, and both of them always addressed him as "Lanny."  My mother going to call on him at his St. John's Wood house, found  "Lanny" in the garden, working from a ladder on a gigantic mass of clay. Turning the corner, she was somewhat alarmed at finding a full-grown lion stretched out on the lawn. Landseer had been commissioned by the Government to model the four lions for the base of Nelson's pillar in Trafalgar Square. He had made some studies in the Zoological Gardens, but as he always preferred. working from the live model, be arranged that an elderly and peculiarly docile lion should be brought to his house from the Zoo in a furniture van attended by two keepers. Should any one wish to know what that particular lion looked like, they have only to glance at the base of the Nelson pillar. On paying an afternoon call, it is so unusual to find a live lion included amongst the guests, that my, mother's perturbation at finding herself in such close proximity to a huge loose carnivore is, perhaps, pardonable. Landseer is, of course, no longer in fashion as a painter."

Frederick Spencer Hamilton, The Days Before Yesterday, 1930

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