An Early 20thC Oil on Panel Study of an English Bulldog; Alph Jack 1926

Origin: English
Period: Early 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1926
Height: 15.25”
Width: 10.75”

The very charming early twentieth century impasto oil on panel, depicting an English Bulldog appearing attentive, with brown leather collar set against a sea green coloured ground, the whole presented unframed and signed lower right Alph Jack 1926.

The painting is in un-cleaned condition and remains unframed. The overall condition is wonderfully original with no signs of damage to the painting, with one or two small areas of scuffing and surface scratches. We cannot find any information on this artist. There is a small pin hole to the top where it has been mounted.

The term "Bulldog" was first mentioned in literature around 1500, the oldest spelling of the word being Bondogge and Bolddogge. The first reference to the word with the modern spelling is dated 1631 or 1632 in a letter by a man named Preswick Eaton where he writes: "procuer mee two good Bulldogs, and let them be sent by ye first shipp". In 1666, English scientist Christopher Merret applied: "Canis pugnax, a Butchers Bull or Bear Dog", as an entry in his Pinax Rerum Naturalium Britannicarum.

The designation "bull" was applied because of the dog's use in the sport of bull baiting. This entailed the setting of dogs (after placing wagers on each dog) onto a tethered bull. The dog that grabbed the bull by the nose and pinned it to the ground would be the victor. It was common for a bull to maim or kill several dogs at such an event, either by goring, tossing, or trampling. Over the centuries, dogs used for bull-baiting developed the stocky bodies and massive heads and jaws that typify the breed as well as a ferocious and savage temperament. Bull-baiting, along with bear-baiting, reached the peak of its popularity in England in the early 1800s until they were both made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835.

Think of the English Bulldog and you think of Winston Churchill, the Union Jack, and awful commemorative mugs; this is rather better than all that isn’t it?