Courtesy of Doyle New York

The Dog-Art Auction You've Always Dreamed Of

A different kind of animal rescue.

In 1998, Doyle, the Upper East Side auction house best known for its genteel sales of silver and antique furniture, held an auction devoted solely to Man's Best Friend. It was a success, and for more than a decade the Dogs in Art sale became a yearly tradition.

Corrie by Frances Mabel Hollams. Estimate: $800—$1,200.
Corrie by Frances Mabel Hollams. Estimate: $800—$1,200.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

The last sale took place in 2009 and included sporting art and wildlife art. Consignors and collectors, however, wouldn't let the Dogs in Art sale expire without a fight.

"We always received so many inquiries," said Ariel Gold, a specialist in Doyle's paintings department. "Given that level of interest, we decided to create a new sale." Like a dachshund-shaped phoenix rising from the ashes, the Doyle Dogs in Art Auction was reborn. 

Madame Chienne by Thierry Poncelet. Estimate: $1,500—$2,500.
Madame Chienne by Thierry Poncelet. Estimate: $1,500—$2,500.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

The popularity of the sale shouldn't come as a surprise. The art market has a lengthy tradition of animal portraiture, in which dogs and horses (and dogs with horses) are recurring themes. The work of George Stubbs (1724–1806), one of Western art history's better-known animal painters, regularly sells for six- and seven-figure sums; in 2014, for instance, his portrait of a spaniel sold for $827,000 at Sotheby's in London. Henry Edwin Landseer (1802–1873), another notable artist of the animal genre, has a dedicated following. (He made the lions in Trafalgar Square and painted portraits of a number of Queen Victoria's pets.). Landseer's portrait of a dachshund owned by the hereditary prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha sold last year for more than $30,000 above its high estimate at Sotheby's in London.

Chevalier de Saint-Denis by Thierry Poncelet, Estimate: $1,500—$2,500.
Chevalier de Saint-Denis by Thierry Poncelet, Estimate: $1,500—$2,500.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

Next week's sale at Doyle will be more modest. Tucked into a larger, Feb. 9 sale of Belle Epoque decorative arts, the auction comprises 40 dog-themed lots, most paintings. Several, such as the trio of paintings by Louis Darling (1916–1970) offer traditional hunting scenes: On the Scent!, Now or Never, and the less lyrical Grouse Shooting. Others, like Frances Mabel Hollams' Corrie, appear to be commissioned portraits. Then there are paintings by Belgian artist Thierry Poncelet, which seem to exist in a world of their own.

"He began his career as a restorer, and one day he was bored in the studio and decided he wanted to spruce up some Old Master paintings," explained Gold. "So he painted the face of a dog on the head of an Old Master's figure, and then it became a new career for him." Hence A Lady of Distinction, a portrait of a Victorian woman whose head happens to be that of a bloodhound.

Best Friends by Charles Towne. Estimate: $6,000—$8,000.
Best Friends by Charles Towne. Estimate: $6,000—$8,000.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

None of the lots carry estimates higher than $30,000, with most well under $5,000. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the breed depicted in each painting can affect its price.

"We've seen that pugs tend to do quite well," Gold said. "German shepherds are a little more challenging to sell."

Check out a range of lots below

George Armfield (1808–1893), Defending the Catch

Defending the Catch by George Armfield.
Defending the Catch by George Armfield.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

Estimate: $1,000–$1,500

 

Robert Alexander (1840–1923), Portrait of a Cairn Terrier

Portrait of a Cairn Terrier by Robert Alexander.
Portrait of a Cairn Terrier by Robert Alexander.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

Estimate: $600–$900

 

Anton Karssen (b. 1945), Up to No Good

Up to No Good by Anton Karssen.
Up to No Good by Anton Karssen.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

Estimate: $2,000–$3,000

 

Esme Gill (20th century), Pekingese Puppies: Two

Pekingese Puppies: Two by Esme Gill.
Pekingese Puppies: Two by Esme Gill.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

Estimate: $300–$400

 

5. Portraits of the Prize Winners of a Crystal Palace Dog Show

[MANUSCRIPT] Portraits of the Prize Winners of a Crystal Palace Dog Show.
[MANUSCRIPT] Portraits of the Prize Winners of a Crystal Palace Dog Show.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

Estimate: $2,000–$3,000

 

After Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, A Jack in Office

A Jack in Office, After Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.
A Jack in Office, After Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.
Courtesy of Doyle New York

Estimate: $500–$800

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