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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

America's Top Dogs: Who Makes the Market?

Bonhams and the American Kennel Club hosted the February 13 Barkfest brunch to raise funds for the AKC Humane Fund.  Dog lovers in town for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show previewed Bonhams’ February 16 Dogs in Show & Field auction. Bonhams and the American Kennel Club hosted the February 13 Barkfest brunch to raise funds for the AKC Humane Fund. Dog lovers in town for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show previewed Bonhams’ February 16 Dogs in Show & Field auction. Russell Bianca©AKC.

NEW YORK CITY – Is America going to the dogs? Yes, judging by the surging popularity of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, whose legion of Facebook fans jumped to nearly 70,000 after judges named Hickory, a Scottish deerhound, the 2011 Best of Show on February 15.
 
The award capped a week when breeders, owners and lovers of dogs descended on Manhattan, crowding into Madison Square Garden and mingling at the dog-friendly Barkfest charity brunch on February 13, where treats and water bowls were on the menu.
 
Barkfest is jointly organized by the American Kennel Club and Bonhams, the international auction house whose Dogs in Show & Field sale on February 16 grossed roughly $800,000 including premium on 217 lots. The sale was 70 percent sold, said its organizer, Bonhams fine-arts expert Alan Fausel.
 
Terriers have taken the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s top award 45 times since 1907, more than twice as often as any other group. Judges have yet to throw a bone to two of America’s most popular breeds, the Labrador retriever and the golden retriever.
 
Does the dog world’s most prestigious prize influence the market for dog painting?
 
Not much, says William Secord, adding that show results do affect the public’s choice of pets. The leading dealer in antique and contemporary dog painting and portraiture recently opened “Canine Masters,” on view through March 26, at his 52 East 76th Street gallery in New York.  Secord skipped this year’s Palm Beach art and antiques shows to exhibit at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where he meets prospective clients by the thousands.
 
Secord underbid Bonhams’ top lot, a 1912 oil on canvas portrait of the black Labrador Peter of Faskally and his mate, Dungavel Jet, by English-born artist Maud Earl (1864-1943). The father of 32 field trial champions, Peter of Faskally was the original bloodline for all chocolate Labs. A Scottish collector bought the painting for $103,700 including premium.
 
“Eight of our top ten lots were paintings of field dogs,” said Fausel, identifying the current demand for images of hunting animals. Collectors also look for exceptional paintings of champion purebreds by well-known artists. Genre scenes of pets, often depicted in cozy interiors, form the third and least robust part of the market. 
 
Sold for $6,222, a silver Tiffany & Co. bowl presented to the 1979 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show champion topped fifty lots of dogiana, including cameos, cufflinks, collars and trophies.
 
Not that Bonhams has the “macho market” all to itself. Coeur D’Alene, which bills itself as the nation’s largest auctioneer of Western and sporting painting, hosts its annual blockbuster sale in Reno, Nv., in late July.
 
On the East Coast, Copley Fine Arts also handles paintings of sporting dogs. “We’ve had great success with English setters, pointers and Springer spaniels,” says Copley chairman Stephen O’Brien, Jr., who does well with canvases by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Percival Leonard Rosseau and Edmund H. Osthaus. For its July 21-22 auction in Plymouth, Ma., Copley Fine Arts has secured a first-rate Aiden Lassell Ripley painting of two Springer spaniels and pheasant hunters. The work is expected to bring upwards of $200,000.
 
Hickory began her championship year with morning television appearances followed by a steak lunch at Sardi’s, the Manhattan theater district watering hole.
 
Sporting-arts enthusiasts were off to quail country for the February 24-27 Thomasville Antiques Show in Thomasville, Ga., home to some of the nation’s most spectacular hunting plantations. William Secord Gallery, Carswell Rush Berlin, Malchione Sporting Antiques and Red Fox Fine Art are listed among the fair’s thirty exhibitors. Guest lecturers will include designers Carolyn Roehm and Richard Keith Langham, along with ex-Sotheby’s vice chairman William W. Stahl, Jr., a foxhunter and conservationist with family ties to the area.

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