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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73)

The Sanctuary 1842

RCIN 403195

Ballroom & Gallery, Balmoral Castle

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In the ethereal evening light, an exhausted stag reaches safety after escaping from hunters, the arc of its path through the water echoed by the pattern of the disturbed ducks overhead. Although Landseer took part in hunts himself, here all attention is placed in the majestic stag rather than the hunting scene. The stag appears heroic and almost Christ-like in its suffering. The painting may symbolise the struggle of life and the peace of salvation.

This is Landseer’s first ‘symbolic’ picture of a deer. The artist often returned to the theme throughout the rest of his career.

Purchased by Queen Victoria and presented to Prince Albert on his birthday, 1842