“Dog days” coming to Madison Avenue

Bonhams New York will hold its 27th annual sale devoted to the art of dog paintings on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009. This year, Bonhams will be the only auction house presenting a dog-themed sale as dog-lovers from across the country converge on New York City for the popular Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Additionally, 2009 will be the fourth year that Bonhams partners with the American Kennel Club, hosting the popular Sunday brunch “Barkfest at Bonhams” on Feb. 8. Dog lovers and their charges will be able to explore Bonhams’ new gallery space on Madison Avenue while taking in the paintings, decorative arts and collectibles, enjoying champagne and hearty fare for both dog and master. All proceeds from the charity brunch will be donated to the AKC Humane Fund, which supports the organization’s Canine Health Foundation and Companion Animal Recovery as well as its Breed Rescue programs.

Adding to the festivities will be a book signing by noted Sporting Art dealer Turner Reuter. Reuter, known for his famous gallery Red Fox Fine Art in Middleburg, Va., will be signing copies of his new book Animal & Sporting Artists in America. More than 20 years in the making, it is a scholarly compendium containing 2,384 artist biographies with more than 400 illustrations.

The sale itself is comprised of 18th, 19th and 20th century works from many noted painters, such as Maude Earl, Arthur Wardle and William Trood, among others. As each of the past 26 annual Bonhams Dog Art auctions has established record prices for artists, the sale has become a perennial favorite amongst collectors of dog art.

The upcoming event will not disappoint – once again offering an exceptional selection of paintings starring man’s best friend. The nearly 200 lots include works that present everything from pampered pugs to working dogs in the numerous milieus that they inhabit.

Perhaps the most sought after lot of the sale will be a charming and fresh to market Arthur John Elsley picture titled One at a Time, 1901. Known for creating delightful pieces, Elsley’s paintings were in great demand by print publishers, his work often being used for advertisements and presentation with special issues of magazines such as The Illustrated London News and the Pears’ Annual. In fact, in Britain, reproduction of Elsley’s works far outpaced any of the artists we now associate with this period.

Depicting a young girl with three dogs vying for her attention, One at a Time dates from Elsley’s most proficient and inventive period when he was perfecting his art.

While Elsley often favored rough collies – such as American TV star Lassie – in his paintings, this work features a tri-color Border collie, a Yorkshire terrier, and what appears to be a smooth fox terrier. The model, an unknown girl who appeared in numerous Elsley paintings from around this time, seems to be attempting to place a collar on one of the dogs who all appear very excited as if vying to win the honor. Estimated at $300,000-$500,000, this work is expected to spark competitive bidding amongst collectors.

An exceptional work by John Emms is also likely to excite dog art lovers. Perhaps one of the most famous creators of dog art, Emms’ work most often centered around hounds and terriers. This quintessentially-Emms piece supports this, depicting a pack of hunting hounds with one lone terrier seated on a farmhouse bench. A draw for hound lovers, this work is estimated at $200,000-$300,000.

In the area of American paintings, the sale boasts two large canvases by Percival Leonard Rosseau, one of the premier sporting artists this country has produced. The first depicts an English setter in the field, titled Bob Finds a Covey (estimate $30,000-$50,000). The second depicts two Irish setters working a field (estimate $20,000-$30,000).

The 2009 sale will also include the second half of an internationally renowned collection of dog collars. Part One of this acclaimed collection was offered in the 2008 sale, with interest coming from many quarters. This year’s selection will include collars from the 16th to 20th centuries in iron, brass, silver and leather. Highlights include a WWI German message collar captured during a battle (estimate $800-$1,200) as well as a number of collars once belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (estimate $600-$800).

As with the previous Bonhams Dog Sales, figurines, bronzes, and prints will also be featured.

“We’re looking forward to once again offering an excellent selection of dog works, as well as a fun event which helps to better the lives of animals who’ve provided so much inspiration to artists and owners throughout time,” states Alan Fausel, director of Fine Art for Bonhams New York.

The illustrated auction catalog for the 2009 sale will be online at www.bonhams.com/us in the weeks preceding the public preview and auction. For more information about this department’s annual sale, visit www.bonhams.com/dogs.

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