attributed to James Seymour

Pointer Bitch


Not on display

Attributed to James Seymour ?1702–1752
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 921 × 1146 mm
frame: 1075 × 1304 × 70 mm
Bequeathed by Miss Agnes Clarke 1978

Display caption

Many eighteenth-century landowners commissioned portraits of their favourite dogs and horses, from artists who specialised in such pictures. Although many of these artists are now forgotten, a few, including Seymour, became better-known and are recognised figures in art history. Nonetheless, the simple format, and descriptive painting style, of pictures like this are very similar to so-called ‘naïve’ paintings.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

T02264 Pointer Bitch c.1740

Inscribed ‘J:S’ b.l.
Oil on canvas 921×1046 (36 1/4×45 1/8)
Bequeathed by Miss Agnes Clarke 1978
PROVENANCE ...; according to Miss Clarke's solicitors, probably bt in the 1950s in England by Miss Clarke and/or her brother, John Semple Clarke (formerly citizens of USA), who settled after World War II at Killagorden House, Idless, Truro, Cornwall

Some doubts must attend a positive attribution to Seymour, since the style, particularly in the rather loosely painted background, does not seem crisp enough for this to be Seymour's own work. Similar initials appear on other paintings and drawings which are unlikely to be by Seymour himself, although evidently (like T02264) contemporary with his work.

The pointer bitch is seen in profile in the foreground, and again (her distinctive markings establishing her identity) in the middle distance, this time in action, with a sportsman and two shooting ponies, one held by a groom. This is evidently a commissioned portrait of a particular animal, perhaps prized both for her skill in the field and for breeding purposes. All clues to her identity are now lost, but the prominent thistle in the foreground on the right may indicate that her proud owner was Scottish.

Published in:
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988


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