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19th Century Masters on Display

By Amy Fernandez

Westminster isn’t complete without a new show at the Secord Gallery. We’ve not only come to expect it, this annual ritual has turned us into rather savvy art connoisseurs. Needless to say, it’s also ramped up our expectations.

You won’t be disappointed this time. The inaugural show at the gallery’s new location is a visual delight. Canine Masters; The Nineteenth Century offers a dazzling glimpse of the unmatched bounty produced during that unparalleled era. In terms of subject matter, technical virtuosity, and historical importance, it is justly considered the pinnacle of dog painting.

Although this is Secord’s area of expertise, he admits, “Finding the best quality nineteenth century dog paintings has become increasingly difficult.  We are fortunate, for instance, to have four fine paintings by Arthur Wardle- two of Wire Fox Terriers and two of Bulldogs.  One of my favorites is of the Bulldog puppy watching chicks play in a shallow bowl of water.”

The Bulldog is a prime example of the radical transformation that occurred in many breeds during this period. Much of that evolution has been documented in art. And for that reason, this show will be particularly appealing to students of purebred history.

Among the 24 works by 18 different artists, Secord mentions a few of his favorites, such as Percival Leonard Rosseau’s 1919 Portrait of Transue Bill and Glensale Happy on Point. “The Rosseau is the finest example of his work that we have ever had the pleasure of exhibiting over the years. The English Setter in the front is on an intense point, which the one in the back is honoring.  Having studied in France at the Salon de Beaux Arts in the late nineteenth century, Rosseau’s work is clearly influenced by the masters of the French Barbizon School.”

Toy and Terrier breeds are generously represented in the show, including some wonderful paintings of lesser-known breeds such as Brussels Griffons, Dandies, and Skyes.  Both are depicted in Playmates another of Secord’s favorites. Painted by Maud Earl in 1902, “It’s an impressive size, and characteristic of her best work, showing the interrelationship of the two breeds.”

Another superlative depiction of expression and breed character is captured in A Close Call. Thomas Earl, another member of that celebrated family of artists, portrays a pair of terriers peering down at a rabbit emerging from its burrow. Secord considers it “an especially endearing example. The beige dog is an early Dandie Dinmont Terrier, a breed of which I am especially fond.”

The entire exhibition can be viewed online at But that cannot compare to seeing the pictures. The gallery’s new location at 29 West 15th Street is just minutes from the Garden.  It’s definitely worth the trip!

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Posted by on Feb 14 2015. Filed under Art & Entertainment, Current Articles, Dog Show History, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • February 2019