Dame Elisabeth Frink R.A. (British, 1930-1993) Leonardo's Dog II 100.5 cm. (39.5 in.) high
Lot 77AR W
Dame Elisabeth Frink R.A.
(British, 1930-1993)
Leonardo's Dog II 100.5 cm. (39.5 in.) high
£ 250,000 - 350,000
US$ 330,000 - 470,000

Lot Details
Dame Elisabeth Frink R.A. (British, 1930-1993) Leonardo's Dog II 100.5 cm. (39.5 in.) high
Dame Elisabeth Frink R.A. (British, 1930-1993)
Leonardo's Dog II
signed and numbered 'Frink 5/6' and marked with the foundry stamp (left hind leg)
bronze with a brown patina
100.5 cm. (39.5 in.) high
Conceived in 1992


    The Mill House Sale, Christie's, Sonning Berkshire, 20-22 June 1994, lot 1317, where purchased by the present owners

    London, Lumley Cazalet Ltd., Elisabeth Frink, Sculpture & Drawing 1965-1993, November-December 1994, cat.no.23 (another cast)

    Edward Lucie-Smith, Elisabeth Frink, Sculpture Since 1984 and Drawings, Art Books International, London, 1994, p.190 (another cast ill.b&w)

    'Frink's dogs are an excellent example of the way in which she managed to remain a popular, communicative artist at a time when the visual arts, sculpture in particular, were becoming increasingly esoteric.' (Edward Lucie-Smith).

    It is true, as Edward Lucie-Smith comments, that Frink's large and imposing Leonardo's Dog II resembles the attractive Hungarian gun-dog breed of Vizslas; although the sculptor maintained they were not based on any one particular breed. The droopy ears, rounded nose and raised eyebrows lend the dog an inquisitiveness and friendliness which is also conveyed in her maquette for the present work. However, the author also notes:

    'It would have been easy to sentimentalize subject-matter of this type, and transform it into something unbearably kitsch. It says much for Frink's talent, and for her temperament – her attitude towards the natural world – that she was able to avoid this trap. Her avoidance of it is perhaps the more remarkable considering that some dogs she depicted are scarcely out of puppyhood.' (Edward Lucie-Smith, Elisabeth Frink, Sculpture Since 1984 and Drawings, Art Books International, London, 1994, p.19).

    Clearly these dogs have a broad and international appeal; the 11 ½ in. high maquette simply titled Dog, sold in these rooms for a remarkable £133,250 in May of this year. Frink herself realised the commercial appeal of the subject, as the maquettes were sold to benefit the Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital.

    As is often the case with Frink's animal sculptures the idea for representing the dog was established early on in her career, during the formative years of the 1950s. In one particular bronze, Blind Beggar and Dog (1957) the animal is used in a protective roll, leading its helpless master forward in search of money. The dog's legs have been attenuated in much the same way as her other bronze, Dog from the same year, so that the creature takes on the appearance of something more wild, like a jackal perhaps. Revisiting the subject 35 years later this comforting idea, of protection, had not left Frink; the title of the present work was inspired by the stone dogs which guard and protect the entrance to the Chateau de Cloux near Amboise, Leonardo da Vinci's home when he died in 1519. Again, the dog is there to serve, ever faithful, but in this instance depicted in a far more domesticated fashion, one which is more accessible to the viewer and representative of the animal she is working from.

    It is difficult to appreciate when looking at a photograph of Leonardo's Dog II just how solid and three-dimensional the sculpture is. There is a 'presence' and weight attached to the work which Lucie-Smith has likened to the monumentality of War Horse for Chatsworth. Only upon walking the complete way around the sculpture can the viewer engage and appreciate the power behind this alert beast. Its vaguely rendered and over-sized paws serve to fix the seated dog to its chosen location, whether indoors or outside, and the lack of modeling to the surface emphasizes the vastness of the dog.

    Created in the penultimate year of her life, Leonardo's Dog II is a fitting tribute to Frink's love affair with all types of animals over a four decade long career.
Auction information

Bonhams' November sale achieved a number of high profile records, including the highest price in London that week within a sale of Modern British Art - Allies by Lawrence Holofcener fetched an impressive £409,250. The department are especially proud to have secured a new world auction record for Walter Richard Sickert. Painted circa 1904, Woman in Profile with Downcast Eyes was discovered in Australia and following intense bidding realised £229,250. Irish Art fared well too, with Paul Henry's charming Old-Age Pensioners going for £109,250 while Colin Middleton's iconic Muriel fetched £70,850 – both finding Irish buyers.

The next auction will take place on 29 May and closes for entry in April. Already consigned are museum quality works that are fresh to market by LS Lowry, FE McWilliam and Edward Seago, among others.

For confidential advice or valuations please contact a member of the department. Our London-based specialists travel throughout the UK and in 2013 and will also be visiting locations including Ireland, South Africa, US, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.

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