Binks (1880-1950) was recognized as the leading artist of his day in canine portraiture, not only in the UK but abroad. He was dog painter to a good deal of the British royalty, as well as the rich and famous of his day. That includes Mrs. Geraldine R. Dodge, the niece of John D. Rockefeller, for whom he painted over 200 watercolor portraits of her dogs while he was her guest for two years at her New Jersey farm and kennels. Most of his dog portraits were in gouache, as is this one. Five examples of his work can be seen in WIlliam Secord’s “Dog Painting, 1840-1940: A Social History of the Dog in Art.”
In the course of my career, I have come across many works by this artist. I have to say that this one is exceptionally well-painted and sensitively captures the soulful essence of this particular dog. Like many canine portrait painters, some of the works he produced in his lifetime were extraordinary; this is one of these.
The artist’s medium, gouache, allowed him to paint the spaniel’s fur with both broad and finer brush strokes to mimic the dog’s fur. However, it is the soft brown eyes that captivate the viewer. The nose, mouth and entire muzzle were so wonderfully depicted that there is instant recognition as to the dog’s character. Binks painted this portrait on a greyish background, which harmonizes well with the coloring of the dog’s coat. The piece is signed to the lower right of the center.
It is housed in its original oval, wood and gesso gilded frame. The frame has a marvelous, beaded border that sets off the portrait well. The oval frame is deeply routed, helping edge the frame and giving the portrait a worthy presence. It has retained its original, bubbled, hand-made glass. The original frame and the old glass present the painting in a most favorable way that emphasizes its antique nature.
The condition of the painting is excellent; there are no issues on which to report. As it has its original frame and glass, it has been protected since its creation. The frame is missing a small section of the beaded border; otherwise, it is in excellent condition.
It measures 11 inches wide by 13-¼ inches high, including the frame.
Perry-Joyce Fine Arts
Soulful Portrait of a Springer Spaniel by Reuben Ward Binks
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