Fri, 03/29/2024 - 11:50pm

Auction Successes

For whom the gavel bangs ...

Scottish-born artist Samuel Fulton (1855-1941) painted chiefly dogs, of which five of his works were reproduced in print form by Boots the Chemists. His subjects were mainly sentimental, in keeping with his Victorian upbringing. Sentimental dog pictures have never fallen out of favor, and Fulton was a master at portraying it in his art. One such painting of a Fox Terrier and West Highland White Terrier (below) appeared at auction with Halls Fine Art with a here-to-be-sold estimate of £1,000-2,000 and generated a lot of interest, finally selling for £6,500.



Global interest in Royal Doulton figures of dogs has waned over the years, but when rarities appear at auction there is always interest. David Duggleby offered two, both seated Bulldogs introduced at the end of World War I in 1918 and made only for a few years before being withdrawn circa 1925. The designer is unknown, and they appeared in a khaki glaze.

The first, known as “Old Bill” or “Tommy,” wore a tin helmet and carried a haversack on his back and sold for £500 against a top estimate of £300. The second wore a tam o’ shanter and also carried a haversack, and sold for £550 against his top estimate of £200. They attracted lot of bids both in the room and online, and both sold to the same U.K.-based buyer.


Canterbury Auctions offered a large collection of Beswick models, including many dogs. The large model of the “Dulux” dog is one of Beswick’s rarities. Introduced in 1964 and withdrawn in 1970, it was designed by a Mr. Mortimer, a freelance modeller, and this was his only work for Beswick. It features a sitting Old English Sheepdog with its right paw on a tin of Dulux paint, one of the most popular brands of paint in the U.K. An Old English Sheepdog appeared in all Dulux advertisements, and as a result the breed became very popular. The model was never retailed to the general public, but given to retailers who stocked Dulux paint, and as a result they rarely appear on the market.



In common with Doulton, interest in Beswick figures of dogs has waned, so for that reason, and perhaps because the Old English did not fit into the familiar mold of Beswick figurines that collectors want, it sold below estimate for £180. A second example failed to find a buyer.



There were three more lots with “doggy” interest in Canterbury’s sale that fared better, including a pair of porcelain whistles made circa 1897, naturalistically modelled and painted of hounds heads, after earlier examples made by the Derby and Rockingham factories. These were made by one of the leading porcelain factories in the U.K., Royal Worcester, founded in 1751 with a Royal Warrant from King George III. They sold above the top estimate for £360.

The tradition for porcelain Pugs goes back to Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, who succeeded Augustus the Strong in 1733. He appointed his cabinet minister, Heinrich Count von Brühl, to president of the treasury board that had control over the porcelain factory. In 1733, Johann Joachim Kändler joined the factory, and it was he and Heinrich who were jointly responsible for the great tradition of Meissen Pugs. The von Brühl family were enthusiastic Pug owners and reputedly the family owned all the Pugs Kändler modelled.



Following the success of Meissen Pugs, countless factories throughout middle Europe in the second half of the 19th Century and into the 20th started producing models of Pugs, either direct copies or in the style of Meissen. Canterbury sold for a mid-estimate £160 a “Dresden” sitting Pug wearing a traditional Pug collar with gilded bells attached after the Meissen original.



The third lot was a 19th-Century Continental porcelain scent bottle in the form of a sitting Pug, also in the style of Meissen, with a removable head and a collar attached with a chain. The dog sat on an oval base painted with flowers and found a new home for £340 (estimate £150-200).

Thomas Blinks (1860-1912) was among the most sought-after sporting artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From an early age, he was interested in art, but had no formal training. He credited hours of study watching horses at Tattersails (the main auctioneer of racehorses in the U.K.) for his mastery of animal musculature and action. He exhibited extensively, including many works at the Royal Academy. Blinks patrons ranged from members of the peerage to American industrialists, and he was one of few artists to portray King George V in the hunting field.

Blinks is the most highly regarded of those who painted Pointers, Setters and Foxhounds in the late 19th Century. He was the master at capturing a tense moment in the field with his subjects frozen in time; plus, he paid great attention to detail in his landscapes, which always complimented the main subject. The Royal Kennel Club has a signed engraving of an English Setter and Pointer by him.



Parker Fine Art Auctions sold recently 11 particularly well-observed pencil studies by Blinks split into two lots, one of Foxhounds and the other of Setters and a Pointer. Both were estimated at £300-500, the Foxhounds selling at the top estimate, the Setters and Pointer, for which Blinks as a dog artist is best known, going for £800.





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