Loving Our Dogs

Loving Our Dogs

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Bonhams.

About ten years ago a dog showed up on my back porch.  My son was planning a tenting extravaganza with his buddies in the backyard as 11-year-olds often do.  It seems the dog was watching the kids from his house across the road and decided to join the festivities. 

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.  To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.
— Milan Kundera, Czech Writer

The next time I saw the dog he was sitting in one of the tents shoulder-to-shoulder with three other little boys--seemingly listening intently to the ongoing chatter. 

Come to find out the dog's name was Jack.  He was an aging, over-sized hound living with five younger dogs across the road and apparently losing his bid for supremacy in his pack.  The war wounds on his hind leg were obvious and deep.

Not long afterwards Jack started showing up regularly on my porch.  He was never a nuisance.  He was just sitting there seemingly enjoying the peace and quiet. 

I would ask Jack to go home and he always did--but he always came back.  One day he never left.  Jack had moved in and we ended up having five extraordinary years together before his old body gave out.  It's been five years now and I wonder if I'll ever really get over losing him.   He was the best companion and he liked me.  I still catch myself looking to the backseat of my car to make sure he's comfortable.

No surprise dogs show up in art.  From cave drawings to Impressionist paintings, images of dogs abound as primary and supporting cast members.  Through the works of artists like Manet, Courbet, Renoir and Degas pets have charmed as well as demonstrated their growing place in the family of man.

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.  To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace,” said Czech writer Milan Kundera.

Dog stories abound through history.  It seems Mary Queen of Scots' beloved Maltese hid under her petticoats in 1587 as she was beheaded.  The dog lived and supposedly died later of grief.   

John Emms the 19th century painter was well known for his depiction of purebred dogs, horses and fox hunting scenes.  He's recognized today mostly for his foxhounds in kennels and his fascination with terriers.

Emms' foxhounds jump off the canvas.  With quick, short brushstrokes and heavy paint he captured the texture of their bodies and coats.  His dogs seem like they're breathing.  With rich browns and ochers he nailed their personalities.  You just know he loved dogs.     

Dog art reached its high point in the late-19th and early-20th century.  It was an era of painting dogs belonging to royalty.  It was an era of large kennels housing all types of purebreds and also rendering the sporting arts like foxhunting on canvas.

On Feb. 18, Bonhams featured their Dogs in Show and Field auction.  

Dogs in Art

Carl Reichert; Head of German Short Hair Pointer; oil on canvas; signed and dated 18 inches by 14 3/4 inches;  $20,000.

John Emms; Gone to Ground, fox hunting scene; oil on canvas; signed; 27 inches by 23 3/4 inches;  $37,500.

Thomas Blinks; English Pointers in Landscape; oil on canvas; signed;4 inches by 18 inches;  $43,750.

John Emms; Waiting for Master; oil on canvas; signed; 28 inches by 36 inches;  $68,750.

Richard Ansdell; King Charles Spaniels; oil on canvas; 36 inches by 28 inches;  $81,250. 


Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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