Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Pup On Boots (and the origin of all chocolate labradors)

This painting was tricky to do: the value range is not great so avoiding mud was a challenge and the colour of this little boy is hard to mix. The scene reminded me of when my dog was a puppy. He hated his crate, which I had made up into a "den" like all the books said, with blankets and toys. He chose instead to fall asleep between the muddy shoes on the shoe rack.

I stumbled across the artist Maud Earl (1864-1943) yesterday and she is my latest hero. I discovered her by accident via the Bonhams Auction site, from where I have pinched this picture:

This painting is of Mr and Mrs Butter's black labrador retrievers from the  Faskally estate in Scotland. It is signed and dated 1912.The names of the dogs were 'Peter of Faskally'  and  'Dungavel Jet'.  At least 32 of Peter's off-spring went on to win or be placed in field championships in the next decade, so his studwork was a major force in the development of the breed. It is known that he is the original blood line for all present day Chocolate Labradors.

I got this information from Bonham's report on the auction of Maud's painting of Peter, which sold for $103,700 (£61,700).

Maud was the daughter of George Earl, a note sporting painter, and he was his daughter’s first teacher. He taught her the anatomy of her subjects, drawing dog, horse and human skeletons to improve her skill. She later said that her father’s instruction had given her ability that set her apart from other dog painters. Maud became famous at a time when women were not expected to make their living at painting. Nevertheless, she developed a select clientele, including Royals amongst her patrons, such as Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra. Although extremely successful in England, Maud felt that the world she knew had been destroyed by World War I and she emigrated to New York City in 1916, where she lived for the rest of her life.


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