Art | The Reconnoisseur

The curious tale of Paul Smith and the dog portraits

Canine portraits that are guaranteed free of saccharine

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The curious tale of Paul Smith and the dog portraits

Image: Paul Smith Studio

March 28 2011
Elisa Anniss

As the owner of a majestic, ageing greyhound, I am clearly a dog person; recently therefore I’ve been on the lookout for something to go on my walls that would reflect my passion for dogs, and also in some way honour my own hound. The trouble is that too many dog pictures – whether paintings or sketches – look cheesy, amateurish, as if they’ve been painted by numbers, while the subjects themselves are typically portrayed doe-eyed with head cocked sideways in a soppy sort of pose. Alternatively, there are oils of the Gainsborough/Stubbs variety featuring noble hounds, horses and families in front of grand houses – out of my price range and not in keeping with the décor of my modern, all-white north London home.

So when I stumbled upon dog drawings commissioned by Paul Smith and available from his store in London’s Albemarle Street that specialises in furniture and curiosities, I was smitten. It turns out that Sir Paul is a dog fan; when he first opened in Nottingham, the Paul Smith shop comprised product, plus him and his Afghan hound, known as “The Manager”.

There are nine drawings in the collection: a whippet (first picture), spaniel, scottie, schnauzer (second picture), pug, labrador, dachshund, poodle and bull terrier, all specially created for Paul Smith Studio. Framed and priced at £1,500, not one of them is in the least bit saccharine.

As it happens, the whippet is one of three £250 unlimited prints available on request. Obviously, whippets and greyhounds are not quite the same. But the shape and colouring of the Paul Smith whippet are similar enough to those of my own dog to make this a suitable canine homage to go on my wall. But what really sold it to me was the cheerful red rosette around the whippet’s neck. You see, as a gentle ex-Walthamstow racer, my dog is very much a winner too.

See also

Prints, Collecting