Springer Spaniel with Rabbit (SOLD)

Richard Ansdell R.A (1815-85)

Signed and dated, 1859. Oil on re-lined canvas

“Red in tooth”, if not claw, Richard Ansdell’s vivid and unsparing painting of a springer spaniel performing its working duty, is typical of the artist’s unsentimental and practical approach to depicting the realities of field sports and country life.

Brought up as an orphan in Liverpool, Ansdell rose through the ranks to become one of the most sought-after animal painters of the mid-Victorian period, with a huge fortune and many aristocratic patrons. He exhibited over 100 paintings at the Royal Academy, (the majority being genre paintings of working animals and countrymen engaged in field sports) and was elected R.A in 1861. At the height of his career, Ansdell was sufficiently assured of his reputation to decline a request to paint Queen Victoria’s large retinue of dogs, because he would have been required to leave his studio to do so, something he hated doing.

So famous, in fact, did Ansdell become through his paintings and hugely popular etchings and prints that, after settling near Lytham in Lancashire, local worthies insisted that a suburb of the town be named in his honour, which is still known as Ansdell to this day.

Springer spaniels feature in some of Ansdell’s most famous works, including ‘The Scotch Gamekeeper’, painted in 1855 and sold at Sothebys at Gleneagles last year for £131,000. The springer depicted in that painting bears a strong resemblance to the one in our study, painted four years later in 1859, and may possibly derive from the same ‘model’.


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