Henry Frederick Lucas Lucas (1848-1943), lived almost all of his life in a town in central England. His love of horses is obvious, as his subjects were primarily hunting scenes, polo ponies and horse portraits, although he has painted other animals, landscapes, and even angels. He often traveled abroad to paint famous race horses. William Secord, author of “Dog Painting, 1840-1940: A Social History of the Dog in Art,” writes that the dog paintings by him are rare.
The artist exhibited three paintings at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in the mid-1880s, but most of his works were commissioned. Sally Mitchell, author of “The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists,” illustrates two of his works in her book. She says that by the end of his long life he was struggling financially. “Totally disowned by his family,” Mitchell notes, “when he died at the age of 95 none of them went to collect his possessions.” However, in his heyday, Lucas Lucas had a number of well-known patrons, including Earl Beatty. And many of his works were either used to illustrate books or were published as prints. According to my trusty 2003 copy of “Davenport’s Art Reference and Price Guide,” one of his paintings sold for $35,000.
In this very large and lusciously painted depiction of a pair of fawn-colored pugs on a rug, the artist used a color palette that intensifies the images and personalities of the pugs. This richness of color also alludes to the social standing of the owners of these marvelous dogs. The dogs themselves display the artist’s talent for not only portraying the details of the dogs’ anatomy, but also his unfailing skill in showing their personalities.
The room is overtaken by the lush draperies that provide a sumptuous background for the artist’s subjects. The oriental carpet matches in intensity and color range the hues of the opulent, heavy drapes and wonderfully colored wall behind. His eye for detail shows in the gilded and curved leg of the important table as well the dropped dark red roses on the bottom left. The addition of a huge decorative tassel draping down the curtain brings an end to his wide expanse of richly designed and colored fabric. There even is an edging of cording swirling in blue and pinkish red that separates the color of the walls from the heavy curtains while adding still another element of detail and decoration. The piece is signed in black near the bottom left.
On the back is written by hand the artist’s name and date: “Painted by H.F. Lucas Lucas, Rugby, Augt. 1883.” There also is the old stamp stating that the canvas was “prepared by” the London firm of Winson and Newton that supplied many artists with materials at the time.
This firm, founded in 1832, is still in existence. Interestingly, the London address on the label was located in the artists’ quarter where a number of eminent painters, including Constable, had studios.
The painting is housed in a wood and gesso, deeply molded and decorated frame. I have had the frame re-gilded.
I have had the painting professionally cleaned and restored to bring it back to its original beauty. It is thus in ready-to-hang condition.
It measures 40 inches wide by 31 inches high, including the frame.
Large Painting of Two Pugs in an Interior, by Henry Frederick Lucas Lucas
$4,250 $5,550 SALE