Douglas

The artist Edwin James Douglas

 

Born in Edinburgh 1848-1914 as the son of James Douglas 1810-1888 , also an artist . He grew up in Edinburgh, and began to draw and sketch at a young age . At 12 years old , Edwin was sent home from school , because he was – ‘... considered too delicate to pursue the necessary curriculum . As events turned out , it proved to be a blessing in disguise .’ A tutor was substituted in lieu of attending school . In comparison to formal education , Edwin found this congenial arrangement a surprising pleasure .

 

One day he was taken by his mother to the Edinburgh Agricultural Show and it was here that he fell head over heels in love with a small Brittany cow ; it was not much larger than a Newfoundland dog. This animal determined his future destiny and his ambition from then on was to be an animal painter .

The stumbling block was his father , who was strongly adverse to the boy' idea of being an artist , as he knew from his own experience that embarking on such a career was very risky . He was unsure at this time if his son had the makings of an artist and considered that a career in law would be more rewarding .

 

A serious accident at age 16, however, prevented Edwin from taking a position as a solicitor , and during his long recovery period his determination to become an artist grew , and eventually his father relented and presented him with some prints of Sir Edwin Landseer' animal paintings . Landseer became Edwin' inspiration .

 

At 17 , Edwin sent three of his canvases to the Exhibition of the Royal Society of Arts at Edinburgh and all three were accepted . It was after that , that Edwin began to attract the attention of some of the established artists in Scotland , and at 21 he exhibited a painting at the Royal Scottish Academy , a great accomplishment for a young artist.

 

Ironically it was Landseer' illustrations of English rural life, and not his paintings of Scottish animals , that influenced Douglas so much as to give him the incentive to move to England . His father James was suffering with depression , so in 1872 Edwin moves his entire family to Westcott, near Dorking in Surrey. There , his father regained his strength , and resumed painting . In 1874, Edwin married Christiana Feake-Martin . During their time in Surry , Edwin became very involved with the Surrey Union Hunt , and many of his paintings from those days featured hounds, fox terriers, and setters, and he began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in London . He also found Jersey cattle fascinating , and painted many of these beautiful animals . He was made an honorary member of the English Jersey Cattle Society , and owned and bred Jersey cows himself .

 

In 1886 the Douglases & their 8 children moved to Worthing on the Sussex coast , ostensibly because of Christiana health . In 1890 they bought a piece of land in Findon - West Sussex , and there built a house of their own , moving into it in 1892 . Douglas named it Fox Down . His wife died there of tuberculosis in 1901 , and Douglas lived on at Fox Down until his death in 1914 when the house was sold and demolished .

 

Edwin James Douglas had become a reputable painter in his lifetime . Among his patrons were Queen Victoria & Edward , Prince of Wales , for whom he painted favorite hores & dogs . He is considered by some to have been the heir apparent to Landseer , and because of this , one can't help but make comparisons . Certainly in style and subject matter there is a great resemblance .

 

While Douglas' work lacks the depth and detail of Landseer's, there is perhaps a greater intimacy in his paintings . With Landseer, one always feels as if you are standing back and viewing a scene , with Douglas , you feel as though you are invited in . Perhaps this is because Landseer often expressed great emotion in his painting which tends to isolate the subject from the viewer . One is afraid to enter and break the mood . Douglas' paintings are not so emotive , and so the viewer feels comfortable entering the scene.

By way of comparison here a 'romantic' scenery incl Mastiff (- after - EJ Douglas) and an antique print (by Anon) presenting a Dachshund , a Lurcher & a Mastiff . The head of the Dachs is very recognizable ane even comparable to to-day specimens which may be an argument to presume all three dogs were depicted in a quite instructive way .

 

Do notice Mastiff head piece at left being rather lanky and houndy annex overlarge ears which are set too close on top , that opposite to the Mastiff head (by Anonymous) which is well 'filled up' and 'clean' , ie free from useless decorum , that without much losing the ‘grand’ character of a determined & faithful guard.