Pope trompe l’oeil painting offered for first time

DALLAS – Dogs In a Kennel, by Alexander Pope Jr. (1849-1924) – a never before seen and entirely striking trompe l’oeil painting from one of America’s all-time greatest popular sporting artists – will make its public debut on May 27 as part of Heritage Auctions’ Signature® American & European Fine Art Auction, after residing in the collection of the Pope family for more than five generations.

“This is the first time this important and beautiful work by Alexander Pope Jr. has ever been presented at public auction,” said Kirsty Buchanan, Assistant Consignment Director for Fine Art at Heritage.

Dogs in a Kennel is estimated at $80,000 to $120,000.

“The painting was so lifelike,” said Kimberly Pope Lampman, who recalls childhood visits to her grandfather’s home where the painting hung, “that we actually thought the big bulldog was real and was waiting to jump out of that crate when we weren’t looking and pounce on us.”

Having trained with William Rimmer and William Copley, Alexander Pope was a celebrated member of the Copley Society of Boston, one of the oldest art associations still in existence in America. Pope is best known for his exquisite paintings of hunting dogs in the field and his highly-realistic still lifes. His trompe l’oeil technique became a visual calling card, and helped to popularize the style in the late 19th century.

Pope’s work was acquired by such high-profile collectors as Czar Alexander III of Russia and is found today in museums including the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and the Brooklyn Museum.

A favorite portrait artist among high-society circles, Pope completed Dogs in a Kennel around the turn of the 20th century, most likely on commission by high-profile horse breeder and New York hotelier David S. Hammond (1840-1900).

“Hammond was part owner of Manhattan’s famed Murray Hill Hotel, where he himself lived among such noted residents as Mark Twain, Grover Cleveland, and J.P. Morgan,” said Buchanan. “The realistically painted shipping label on the wooden crate clearly identifies the two black spaniels and the bulldog as belonging to Hammond.”

It’s not known if Hammond received this work, as the painting remained in the artist’s personal collection.

“According to The New York Times (obit: April 11, 1900), Hammond died of heart failure in his Murray Hill Hotel in April 1900, possibly before this piece was finished,” Buchanan said. “Mysteriously, the painting remained in the artist’s possession.”

Dogs in a Kennel was eventually gifted by Pope to his cousin, William Carroll Pope. The oil on canvas has been carefully passed down through five generations of that family.

For more information about Heritage Auctions, their past and upcoming sales, visit www.HA.com. ?

Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions

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