Best In Show
Perhaps you were one of the millions of Americans glued to the screen watching those ring ready, pampered pups strut out to take home the most prized ‘Best in Show’ award at Madison Square Garden in early February. The 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is one of the oldest sporting events in the country – second only to the Kentucky Derby. This year the show brought all the barking competition with more than 200 different breeds represented, and close to 3000 dogs in competition for the grand prize. The format of the competition is fairly straightforward. Dogs compete within their breed in their specific groups, including; Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, Herding, Sporting, Working and Terrier, and after a dog wins best of group, they go on to compete for the overall Best of Show award. This year, the wire fox terrier ‘King’ owned the AstroTurf and won the Best in Show!
Coinciding with The Westminster Dog Show, is the annual Dogs in Show and Field Fine Art Sale at Bonhams, New York, where dog-themed art is sold at auction. The leading lot of the February sale was ‘Hounds and Terrier in Kennel’ by the 19th century British artist, John Emms. This painting with its fluid brushstrokes and crisp highlights, brought a howling $140,000! Dog art collectors also vie for paintings by Maud Earl, a Victorian painter that came from a family of animal painters and excelled in an era when women were not expected to earn a living as an artist. An oil on canvas painting ‘Marbled Beauties’ by Earl also sold in February at Sotheby’s, New York for $25,000, tripling the presale estimate of $6,000-$8,000. Now that should get your tail wagging!
Today animal portraiture and dog art still remains popular. Privately commissioned paintings of pets, including horses, dogs and cats by regionalist painters are sought after by many pet owners. Animal portraits extend the short lives of our beloved pets by preserving our fond memories of them.
Even though your favorite breed may not have won Westminster this year, your treasured companion can still become your ‘Best in Show’ on canvas.
- Martine White, Artist, with Bertram Show Dog Commission
- Dog Portrait, by Pet Portrait Artist, Andrea Gianchiglia
- Marbled Beauties, by Maud Earl, British (1864-1943)