The oil on canvas, 2ft 6in x 2ft 1in (76.5 x 63.5cm), painted by John Hayter (1800-91), shows a youthful Landseer seated at his easel. He sketches a howling cat while another man – probably Hayter – urges a lively dog towards it.
The picture documents the creation of one of Landseer’s early works, The Larder Invaded. It was shown at The British Institution in 1822 and won a £150 prize, helping propel Landseer to fame. By 1830, aged 28, he was a Royal Academician. In the same year Hayter exhibited the picture of Landseer in his studio at The British Institution.
Hayter’s and Landseer’s families were close and the two artists were friends from an early age. Hayter’s first picture to be exhibited at the RA, which he painted at just 15, was titled The Cricketer, a Portrait of Master E Landseer.
Hayter was best known as a portraitist, counting the Duke of Wellington among his sitters.
Landseer went on to be one of the most celebrated artists of his day and is probably best remembered today for the lion sculptures at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London, and the 1851 painting Monarch of the Glen.
Having been out of the public eye for more than a century, the picture of the two friends in the studio came to Bagshawe with no information regarding the artist or the subject, but both were gradually reidentified.
It offers a glimpse at both an artistic friendship and Landseer’s manipulation of his animal subjects.
The gallery, which dubs the picture ‘charming and quietly important’, has priced it at £75,000.