Alexander Pope (American, 1849-1924), with Frame by Charles Prendergast (American, 1863-1948) and Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American, 1858-1924)
Blue Ribbon Winners at Lawson Kennels: Ivel Dublin Girl, Thackeray Soda, Fashion, Glen Monarch, Rodney Monarch, Duke of St. Martin, Rodney Duplicate, Kruger, and Isla Queen
Painting signed and dated "ALEXANDER POPE 02" l.r., frame signed/inscribed and dated "Charles F. Prendergast/Maurice B. Prendergast/1903" on the top horizontal rail on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 70 in. (70.0 x 178 cm), in a signed Prendergast brothers frame; frame is polychrome and gold leaf on carved, incised, and gessoed panel.
Condition: Patch reinforcements, retouch, scattered abrasions, craquelure, minor canvas deformation, surface grime.
N.B. Thomas W. Lawson was a wildly successful Boston businessman. He made a fortune selling copper, earning him the moniker "The Copper King," and he speculated heavily - some might say recklessly - in the stock market. In 1901 he began designing his residence, Dreamwold, in Egypt, Massachusetts (Scituate). The property was considered a farm, and themes of farming and harvest were repeated throughout the decoration of the property, but the plans were wildly extravagant. The stables were designed to accommodate 300 horses, with a riding academy and three brooding stables, as well as eight other stables. It also had kennels for 150 dogs. Designed with all of the day's modern conveniences including electricity and telephones, the house was decorated by the top artists and artisans of the period. The estimated cost of Dreamwold at the time was $6,000,000. The Lawson Tower in Scituate is all that remains of Dreamwold today.
Although he bred at least six different breeds of dogs, Lawson's favorite were his champion English Bulldogs. It is said that no dog show was complete in the first decade of the 20th century without entries from the Lawson kennels. Lawson had not one but two paintings of his bulldogs commissioned for Dreamwold, one of which is the work offered here. Both were painted by Alexander Pope, one of the top dog portraitists of the day, who was, conveniently, a Boston native. The nine bulldogs depicted in the present painting are actually specific portraits, and they are identified as the title indicates. (The companion painting, location unknown, included eleven prize-winners.) The frame was made by Charles and Maurice Prendergast, and it too depicts some of Lawson's dogs as well as his four daughters, and is topped with the Dreamwold badge: a winged horse (Pegasus) held by the strong hand of a man, symbolizing "Beauty, Strength and Speed." The Prendergast frame from the companion painting is owned by the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.
The patch reinforcements on the reverse measure 3 x 2 3/4 inches on the left side, and 7 x 6 1/4 inches on the right side. They correspond to retouch on the dogs. Other areas of minor retouch mainly along the bottom edge in the feet of the dogs. Please see black-light photos.
With a temporary loan label from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts affixed to the back of the frame. A label from Sotheby's Restoration, New York, affixed to the reverse of the canvas.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston reports that this work was on loan from from May 17, 1968, until March 26, 1969. The frame was exhibited (without the painting) as part of a Prendergast exhibition held at the MFA, Rutgers University, and The Phillips Collection. (The art of Charles Prendergast : [Exhibition: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 2-November 3, 1968; Rutgers University Art Gallery, New Brunswick, New Jersey, November 17-December 22, 1968; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., January 11-February 16, 1969)
Framed dimensions are 45 (including the crest) x 82 x 2 1/4 in.
Items may have wear and tear, imperfections, or the effects of aging. Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.