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You’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate group than dog lovers. That’s why a recent Bonhams sale had collectors worldwide contending for some 250 canine-related artworks. The auction was an international spectacle honoring man’s best friend — from bulldogs to basset hounds, papillons to poodles.

“Portrait of Buster, Shandy, and Bluett” by Frances Mabel Hollams | Photography provided by Bonhams

“We love dogs, and it is this basic love that spawned an entire genre of art,” says Bonhams Edinburgh Picture Specialist Leo Webster. “Whether working, shooting or simply pets, there is such a broad range of reasons for keeping dogs, and therefore celebrating them in art.”

Although the live auction took place in Edinburgh, Scotland, impassioned admirers from multiple countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, placed bids online and by phone for a rousing sale that smashed early estimates, bringing in £430,739.

“Meurice of Mannerhead – A Very Fine Poodle” by Frederick Thomas Daws

Who could resist a posh poodle with the striped bow and red embellishments on its paws? “Meurice of Mannerhead – A Very Fine Poodle,” the lush 20th century painting of an aristocratic-looking animal posed against a lavish yellow drape by British artist Frederick Thomas Daws, sold for £9,600.

An especially mischievous pooch seemed to steal everyone’s heart: a wide-eyed black pup intently holding a tennis racket in its mouth. The 1898 portrait “Sidi – A Poodle with a Tennis Racket” was painted by German artist Paul Friedrich Meyerheim, who beautifully captured the beloved pet’s playful spirit. After fierce bidding, the artwork sold for £51,200.

“A French Bulldog” by Maud Earl

Among the auction’s most elegant pieces was a portrait of a poised French bulldog, created circa 1900 by British artist Maud Earl. One of the few female sporting painters of that era, she was known for her highly detailed renderings of purebred pooches. In this work, the proud Frenchie is captured with soft brush strokes, evoking a cool sophistication. No surprise, it garnered great interest from breed lovers near and far, bringing in £14,080.

“As with most areas of collecting, there is a whole host of different buyers,” Webster explains. “Some buyers wish to celebrate all dogs, and some only want to collect items related to ‘their’ breed. Some are looking for one special artwork, while others are wishing to fill their entire home.”

Collectors with more modest budgets were also thrown a bone, as the sale offered some fetching bargains. An impressive 20th century walking stick with a carved wooden finial in the shape of a spaniel head sold for £358. Meanwhile, a 19th century brooch featuring a rough collie set in a rock crystal reverse intaglio imbued with a delicate seed-pearl border brought in £640. A patinated bronze greyhound letter clip went for £538, his spring-hinged jaw ready to hold handwritten keepsakes.

But surely, the item that garnered the most attention was the large-scale 1896 sporting canvas entitled “The New Forest Buckhounds.” Painted by the incomparable British artist John Emms, the work shows a group of hounds seated in the forest, accompanied by a huntsman and kennel assistants. Emms specialized in painting hounds in the Hampshire area; here, he used dynamic, precise brush strokes to capture the dogs’ spirit and energy. Amid strong demand from sporting lovers the world over, the artwork sold for £82,950 — a grand gesture of puppy love, indeed.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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