Art: The Great Worst Painter

Britain's Royal Academy had spent four years assembling the big exhibition, and among the lenders was Queen Elizabeth herself. The artist on view was Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., whose sentimental canvases made him one of the most successful painters of the 19th century. Reversing this judgment, the 20th century has found him monumentally mawkish, and in rehabilitating him with an elaborate show, the academy seemed to be asking: Was Sir Edwin really as bad as all that? The answer: "Yes!"

Born in 1802, Landseer was certainly one of the most prodigious of child prodigies'. At twelve, he became the youngest artist...

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