Published: March 27, 2007
The Bonhams New York Madison Avenue gallery was filled to capacity with dog enthusiasts and collectors in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Dog Sale on February 13. Achieving a world auction record and wagging strong prices, the sale brought nearly $1 million for dog-themed art, décor and memorabilia, featuring a wide selection of painting, bronzes, dog collars, commemorative medallions, bookends, desk sets, trophies and other collectible items.
In 1982, Bonhams was the first major auction house to fully recognize this intriguing niche market, beloved by collectors and canine enthusiasts worldwide. Timed to coincide with the Westminster Dog Show, Bonhams’ auctions of dog-related works have grown into the largest offerings of their type on the auction calendar.
Previous auctions have garnered world record prices for depictions of “man’s best friend,” and the 2007 offering included works by Thomas Blinks, John Emms, Henriette Ronner-Knip, Edmund Bristow, Edmund Henry Osthaus, John Dalby and Ruben Ward Binks, among others.
This year’s auction continued the tradition of setting world record prices. American painter Edwin Megargee’s “Three Spaniels and a Woodcock” †an incredibly detailed oil on canvas depicting three dogs captivated by a bird in flight †brought a record for the artist at $16,730, and competitive bidding resulted in strong prices for the more than 230 lots of bulldogs, foxhounds, greyhounds, setters, terriers, pugs and spaniels, among many others.
Dutch artist Conradyn Cunaeus’s “Spilt Milk,” an oil on panel work, featured a lively mixed breed trio playfully positioned around a plate of spilt milk. Believed to be the highest price ever paid for a work by the artist, the painting sold for $41,825, doubling the high estimate of $20,000.
“Although the market for sporting art continues to be strong, we were pleasantly surprised by a surge of interest in the less traditional field of genre paintings,” said Alan Fausel, director of Bonhams New York’s fine art department.
Also on offer was an attractive work titled “Setters” by Thomas Blinks, one of the finest of the Nineteenth Century sporting painters. Stemming from a private Australian collection, the oil on canvas is, according to Fausel, “one of the largest and most spectacular pictures in this genre to be seen on the auction block for many years.” The work brought $94,250.
The auction catalog cover lot was a playful still-life genre with five dogs titled “Waiting for Lunch” by Dutch artist Henriette Ronner-Knip. Estimated at $40/60,000, the oil on canvas fetched $56,763.
Other genre and mixed breed dog works included Alfred William Strutt’s “A Budding Artist, $32,863; “Best Friends” by Philip Eustace Stretton, $35,850; and John Charlton’s oil on canvas titled “A Volpino Italiano and Other Dogs in an Interior,” which brought $38,838, surpassing its high estimate of $30,000.
“Mrs Cottinghams’s Golden Retrievers” by Reuben Ward Binks sold for nearly twice its estimate, bringing $5,975. The work is signed by the artist, dated 1926, and inscribed with the names of her dogs. According to the Golden Retriever Handbook published in 1953, Mrs Cottingham (Woolley) had one of the strongest and largest kennels of the 1920s and 1930s, and left a great mark on the breed.
Over the years, the Dog Sale has grown to include charitable components, including “Barkfest at Bonhams,” a lively morning repast and viewing of the offered works, conducted in conjunction with the prestigious American Kennel Club (AKC). A successful event of the 2007 Dog Show season, “Barkfest” took place on February 11 at Bonhams New York. More than 150 two-legged collectors and many of their four-legged canine companions attended the event. All proceeds from the event benefit the AKC’s charitable public art project DOGNY †America’s Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.bonhams.com or 212-644-9001.
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