King Charles Spaniel in a Landscape, nineteenth-century Primitive School, oil on canvas, 24 x 30″, sold by Bonhams, February 1989, £2,800. with a penchant for a particular breed will fight fiercely over winsome studies of the Cavalier King Charles or Pekinese of their choice. Conventional sporting dog pictures, often entitled something like Guarding the Day’s Bag, Terriers Ratting or Spaniels Flushing Mallard, also continue to find an appreciative audience. Somdwhat surprisingly, the narrative picture is sometimes the most underpriced. The artist’s name is often not as important as the quality of the individual picture.
Even the best-known artists were not infallible, and unattractive dead game or distasteful subjects will devalue a picture considerably. The most beguiling pictures are not necessarily those which demonstrate the greatest technical expertise; nineteenth-century naive paintings of dogs are very popular for their own idiosyncratic charm. For some collectors, the thought of locking teeth with a rival dog lover in the salerooms over a picture of a poodle or a peke is an unattractive prospect and, with this in mind, Sara Davenport’s gallery opened some three years ago, inspired largely by Sara’s own love of dog pictures. The gallery, at 206 Walton Street, SW3 (tel: 01-225 2223), includes a wide range of nineteenth-century dog portraits, especially of spaniels, pugs and pekes (which are the most saleable breeds) as well as dog tapestries and sculptures. Prices in the gallery range from £700 for an oil painting, with most pictures being between £2,000 and £4,000. There is also a good stock of prints from £20.