Leaders of the Pack Prove Top Dogs at Bonhams 19th Century Art Sale

The Bitch Pack of the Meath Foxhounds, by the Victorian animal painter John Emms sold for £225,000 at Bonhams 19th Century and British Impressionist Art 'behind-closed-doors' sale today (3 June) in London. It had been estimated at £180,000-250,000. The sale made a total of £1,420,000, with 70% sold by lot and 70% sold by value.

In this unusually large work – it is 40 x 60 inches – Emms (British 11843-1912) employed fluid brush strokes to give weight and solidity to the different physical characteristics of the dogs as well as their individual temperaments. It is known that the artist walked to the kennels every day and returned to his studio with one hound after another so he could make detailed preliminary sketches which he then worked up into the overall composition.

Hunting with hounds is a tradition in Ireland that goes back to ancient times and features strongly in Celtic literature and legend. There is a pack recorded in the Meath area as early as 1723, although the Meath Hunt itself dates from 1817. The Bitch Pack of the Meath Foxhounds was painted in 1896 when the famous John Watson was Master, his mastership spanning 1891-1908.

Other highlights included:

Study for An Untold Dream by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (British, 1833-1898). Sold for £68,800. (Estimate: £25,000-30,000).

Sketch for 'Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May' or Narcissus by John Waterhouse, RA, RI (British, 1849-1917). Sold for £62,500. (Estimate: £50,000-70,000).

Interior with cello and woman reading by Carl Holsøe (Danish, 1863-1935). Sold for £60,000. (Estimate: £15,000-20,000).

Reverie by Frédéric Soulacroix (French, 1858-1933). Sold for £52,000. (Estimate £20,000-30,000).

Portrait of Ropen Carabit by Felice Schiavoni (Italian, 1803-1881). Sold for £48,800. (Estimate: £20,000-30,000).

The sale was a live 'behind-closed-doors' auction. An auctioneer was present on the rostrum, and bids were accepted in the following formats: online, on the phone, or by leaving an absentee bid.

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