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Bull Terrier bounty at Sotheby’s sale

Sotheby’s New Bond Street, London sale of Victorian & Edwardian Art on December 14th contained a rare dog painting by the master of the horse Sir Alfred J Munnings (1878-1959) writes Paul Keevil.

Lot 180, ‘A Bull-Terrier Named Weller’ oil on canvas, measuring 20 by 24 in (51 by 61 cm), came to the sale from a direct decendent of Geoffrey Garnier and was fresh to the market. It carried a pre sale estimate of £60,000-80,000 and sold in the room for a bid of £78,000.

Weller was a white Bull Terrier owned by Munnings' great friend, the artist and engraver Geoffrey Garnier (1889-1971). The picture was painted in Garnier's studio at Orchard Cottage, Trewarveneth in Newlyn, Devon in 1913. Weller is seated on the stool that Garnier would sit to paint at his easle and is surrounded by the trappings of an artist.

The picture was given by Munnings to Garnier as a mark of their friendship, which is also demonstrated by a series of informal photographs taken by Garnier of Munnings and Weller on the rocks at Newlyn. During his life time, Munnings painted very few solo portraits of dogs, probably the most notable being the portrait of Lady Munnings' Pekingese ‘Black Knight’ seated in one of Munning's armchairs (1909) which now hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.