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The Art Of The Terrier – Exuberance on Canvas

Click Here To Read The Complete Article From The Canine Chronicle August, 2013 Issue 162 – August, 2013

By Debra Lampert-Rudman

Arthur Wardle (English, 1864-1949) Ware Rabbits; On the Way to a Dog Show Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches, ­ photo courtesy The William Secord Gallery

The painting styles used by artists depicting Terriers are a lot like Terriers themselves: dynamic, spirited, confident, and a bit challenging.

Most terrier breeds were developed in Great Britain and Ireland and the word “Terrier” itself comes from the Latin, terra, meaning earth. In fact, in modern French, Terrier means “burrow”. Therefore, as any Terrier aficionado might expect, many significant Terrier paintings include rats, barns, burrows, and open fields as backgrounds, with disputes of one type or another taking as subjects.

The “challenging” part includes identifying many of the Terrier breeds, or even particular dogs, seen in these paintings. The following surveys some very striking, and in some cases, challenging, Terrier paintings.

ARTHUR WARDLE’S AIREDALE AND FOX TERRIERS

Arthur Wardle, an English painter best known for his paintings of dogs, and in particular, terriers, possessed a tremendous understanding of purebred dogs, and was known to “paint a much more elegant and well-kept dog that conformed more to the breed standard than to the actual dog,” according to William Secord, President of New York City’s William Secord Gallery, and world-renowned dog art expert, in a recent interview.

Wardle’s delightful oil painting, above, Ware Rabbits; on the Way to a Dog Show, now hanging at the William Secord Gallery, depicts an Airedale holding back a Wire Fox Terrier eager to chase some rabbits perfectly illustrating the terrier spirit, charm, brains, and feistiness. Painted in the 1920s, one wonders whether the artists’ view of these particular Terriers was painted conforming to the standard or accurately depicting its subjects.

According to Secord, Arthur Wardle’s large oil painting of three busy fox terriers, seen above, is the best version of a series of paintings, all entitled Rabbiting, created by the artist.

“The way it’s painted and its size make it the best of the bunch,” Secord said. “If you notice the contrast of the tree limbs to the coat of the dog on the left, it is brilliantly painted and the texture of the dry bark against the coat of the dog is outstanding.” Here again, one wonders if these athletic terriers are depicted as they truly are, or as the standard of its time calls for them to appear.

Writing in the Introduction to his Dog Painting: A History of the Dog In Art, Secord noted, “It was only in the 1800s that our modern day concept of breeds developed. Up until this time individual breeds were certainly recognized, but an interest in the history and appearance, and the categorization of the various breeds was primarily a nineteenth century development…One fascinating aspect of any study of dog painting is to note when the individual breeds came into existence, and how the breeds physically changed over the years.”

GUSTAV MUSS-ARNOLT’S BEDLINGTON TERRIER

Gustav Muss-Arnolt’s depiction of a Bedlington Terrier, painted around the turn of the 20th century, was created for a series of Cigarette Cards. The painting is also featured on the The Bedlington Club of America’s website as an illustration of “Bedlington History” at: http://www.bedlingtonamerica.com/historic.html.

Gustav Muss-Arnolt was born in Germany in 1858, emigrating to America when in his thirties. A true “dog man” Muss-Arnolt painted many breeds, including Terriers, and specialized in Sporting Dog paintings. Before his death in 1927, he created more than 170 illustrations for the AKC Gazette, was an all breed judge and sat on the AKC Board of Directors.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Bedlington Terrier is named for the Bedlington Mining Shire in the county of Northumberland, England, where it was developed.

“In the early 1800s it was used to quickly dispatch a variety of vermin, and coal miners enjoyed racing the dogs for sport. Its gracefully shaped body lends the Bedlington to great speed and endurance.”

Muss-Arnolt’s Bedlington certainly appears taller and less refined than Bedlington Terriers of the 21st century.

JOHN EMMS’ DANDIE DINMONT

John Emms (English, 1843-1912) Dandie Dinmont Terrier Oil on canvas, 15 ½ x 13 ½ inches, photo courtesy The William Secord Gallery

Among the earliest recognized Terrier breeds, the Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terriers trace their lineage to around 1815. Others, such as the West Highland White Terrier and Cairn Terrier became more well-known in the late 19th Century. Some Terrier breeds, such as Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, were only recognized in the early 20th Century.

According to the Kennel Club of the UK, the Dandie Dinmont comes from the same root stock as many others from the north of England and the borders between England and Scotland. The Dandie was developed in the 1600s for badger and otter hunting and that sportiness is seen in the portrait, left.

John Emms, one of the most prominent and prolific animal painters of the late nineteenth century, is recognized for his “quick, confident, and vigorous brush stroke”.

Emms captures “the anatomy, characteristic stance, and character of his subjects. The best of his work exhibits a painterly, almost calligraphic style that gives his portraits a fresh, immediate quality,” according to Secord. Emms’ painterly, vigorous, and confident brush strokes epitomize Terrier personality and spirit.

The Mustard Dandie depicted above appears guilty over a broken piece of china, however, the flash of tail seen at the bottom left of the painting could mean another Dandie Dinmont may have been responsible – or perhaps an accomplice; revealing a great deal of Terrier personality and flair.

EDWIN LANDSEER’S ANCESTORS OF WEST HIGLAND WHITE AND CAIRN TERRIERS

Sir Edwin Landseer (English, 1802-1873) A Dog Looking Out of a Kennel Oil on panel 8 x 6 inches, photo courtesy The William Secord Gallery

In 2005, The AKC Gazette published a “Dogs in Art” special issue and, in it, asked many prominent members of both the dog world and the art world to describe their favorite works of dog art. William Secord, a long-time Terrier fancier, named several in that issue, including Terrier in a Kennel, by Sir Edwin Landseer, seen above.

Secord said Landseer is, “by far the finest English painter of dogs from the first half of the 19th century and had a tremendous influence on subsequent generations of dog and animal artists. Although I like his large-scale paintings, my personal favorite is a small study – 8 by 6 inches – of a terrier looking out of a kennel.”

In a recent discussion regarding this work, Secord said he admires Landseer’s technique as well as the subject.

“Landseer shows such confidence,” Secord added. “He lays down paint quickly and, here, catches the ancestor of a Westie. Personally, I love terriers for their perky personalities – they’re a challenge – they have their own distinct personalities and life with them is never dull.”

Describing this painting as a “little gem – a style which echoes the terrier personality – are what attracts me. The work has an animated quality to it, and Landseer’s genius is to paint in a quick, seemingly effortless manner, yet create an image that exactly captures the sitter; no brush stroke could be eliminated without the picture suffering for the lack of it.”

Secord goes on to say that the effect is amplified in this work by placing the dog in a kennel with its head emerging from a dark space. “It is a composition which was to be repeated by later Victorian artists such as George Earl, and is effective in creating an almost trompe l’oeil effect, where the painting seems to trick the eye.”

The West Highland White Terrier, Cairn Terrier and Scottish Terrier were divided into distinct breeds, and began looking the way we see them today, in the early 20th Century. At the time Landseer created the painting seen above, this ancestor of today’s Cairn Terrier was known as a “Scotch Terrier”.

PHILIP EUSTACE STRETTON‘S EARLY JACK RUSSELL TERRIER

Phiilip Stretton (English, fl. 1884-1919) Favorite Chair Oil on canvas, 22 x 26 inches, photo courtesy The William Secord Gallery

Philip Stretton was a follower of Sir Edwin Landseer and according to Secord, “Stretton takes George Earl’s (another Landseer follower) brushstroke one stroke further.” Stretton’s loose, confident, stylish stroke befits this elegant Jack Russell Terrier ancestor perfectly.

Because of their highly active nature, Terriers are rarely portrayed in such a relaxed manner; lying on a chair with a paw, or paws, resting on a book. Stretton’s subject, staring straight at the viewer, gives the impression that he may be lying down now but he could be ready to run at the rustle of a paper.

LILIAN CHEVIOT’S SEALYHAM TERRIERS

Lilian Cheviot was an English painter who, according to Secord’s Dog Painting: A History of the Dog In Art had, “many distinguished patrons and produced many illustrations for The Graphic as well as other magazines.” Known primarily for paintings of terriers and purebred dogs, she exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1895 to 1899.

In the 1920s she painted a portrait of Sealyham Terriers Ch. Pinegrade Perfection and Ch. Pinegrade Scotia Swell that is currently in the AKC’s Collection. “Perfection” went Best in Show at Westminster in 1927.

During the 1920s Sealys were quite popular as both show dogs and pets. It isn’t certain whether the Sealyham Terriers depicted in Sealyham Terriers in a Highland Landscape were pets or show dogs.

“It’s the expressions of the dogs – that terrier-like anticipation and alert, bright eyes that makes this a fabulous piece,” Secord remarked.

Cheviot generally painted her subjects in romantic outdoor settings, reminiscent of their country of origin. Even top show dog portraits were painted with her subjects staring sweetly at the viewer, rather than in show poses. The Sealyhams depicted above are conformationally quite different from Sealys seen in today’s show ring, however, the expression is classic.

EDWIN MEGARGEE’S CAIRN TERRIER AND SMOOTH FOX TERRIER

S. Edwin Megargee, Jr., known as Edwin Megargee, was “dedicated to painting dogs the way they looked,” William Secord remarked in a recent interview. In fact, Megargee is credited with coining the phrase “Blood will tell” when discussing the quality of purebred dogs.

Edwin Megargee (American, 1883-1958) Ch. Nornay Saddler, 1940 Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches, photo courtesy The William Secord Gallery

According to a Secord Gallery booklet on the artist’s work, Megargee was one of the finest painters of purebred dogs. “Megargee prided himself on painting what he saw, and whether depicting dogs in show poses or pointers and setters in the field, he created an important body of work which realistically depicted some of the finest animals in the country, many owned by the preeminent dog fanciers and sportsmen of the day.”

Megargee had a personal attachment to purebred dogs, not only as an artist but as a breeder, exhibitor, dog show judge, and member of the American Kennel Club Board of Directors from 1928 to 1931. According to the Gallery booklet, he co-owned the famous Scottish Terrier kennel Tobermory Kennels, with artist Marguerite Kirmse.

The paintings of two top Terriers of their time: Cairn Terrier Ch. Tommy Tucker O’Tapscot and Smooth Fox Terrier Ch. Nornay Saddler (pictured right) perfectly illustrate Megargee’s realistic approach.

The painting Ch. Tommy Tucker O’Tapscot was part of a 24-portrait commission Megargee received to paint circular portraits (reminiscent of a ship’s porthole) of the top show dogs of the late 1930s to embellish the kennel doors of the S.S. America sailing ship. According to Secord, this painting was originally installed in the “De Luxe Kennels” of this famous vessel. The SS America was significant on a number of levels: The United States’ first attempt at creating a great ocean liner, competitive with the European liners; contemporary interior design; and a festive launch highlighted by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt christening the ship in August 1939 before an audience of over 30,000 people.

“The painting weighed 5 pounds,” Secord said. “We framed it with the gold metal circle, remainder of the original frame. Tommy Tucker was the top Cairn of his day, realistically painted, adorable expression, but quite different from today’s Cairns.”

Megargee’s painting of Smooth Fox Terrier Ch. Nornay Saddler, portrays him in perfect show stance beside a burrow and field. According to a New Yorker magazine article of November 2, 1940, Saddler retired in October 1940 after winning his 55th Best in Show making him the highest winning dog of any breed since dog shows were instituted. He also garnered the highest stud fee in his breed at that time: $100.

Winthrop Rutherfurd, 80 years old at the time, and then President of the American Fox Terrier Club was quoted in the New Yorker as saying, “When they made the standard they closed their eyes and dreamed of Saddler.”

This remarkable dog was painted in oils by Frank Voss, in pastels by William McPherson, and, above, in oils by Megargee. According to Secord, this painting was commissioned by Saddler’s owner James M. Austin of Far Hills, New Jersey as a gift for Saddler’s handler. (As an aside, Nornay Saddler was brought out of retirement in 1941 specifically for the Morris & Essex Kennel Club show and went on to win his 56th Best in Show shown by Austin himself).

THE HISTORY OF THE TERRIER IN ART IS THE HISTORY OF THE TERRIER IN BREED

Despite, or perhaps because of, their challenging natures, Terriers have been a favorite subject of a large number of highly accomplished artists for centuries. The history of the Terrier in art is the history of the Terrier in breed.

These wonderful paintings, generously shared by The William Secord Gallery, just a very small sampling of the wide range of Terrier art and artists available national and internationally, illustrate the growth and development of several breeds and breed standards.

Part of the viewer’s joy is the challenge to identify each breed, identifiable mostly through expression, personality, and heart.

Just like Terriers, themselves.

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=30538

Posted by on Aug 20 2013. Filed under Current Articles, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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