John Falconer Slater (1857-1937), was a self-taught painter of marines, landscapes, street scenes, animals, florals and portraits in both oil and watercolor. He also was an etcher and lithographer. His career did not begin at an early age, as he worked as a bookkeeper for his father and then traveled to South Africa where he set up a shop on a diamond field. After the shop was nearly destroyed in a thunderstorm, he returned home to his native Northumberland on the coast of northeast England, where his mother encouraged him to take up painting.
His first exhibit of note was shown in 1883 at the local Gateshead Fine Art & Industrial Exhibition. It was a group portrait entitled, “Members of the Dicky Bird Society.” Over the next several years he showed paintings at the prestigious Bewick Club in Newcastle as well as Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. He exhibited “The Boat Landing” at the Royal Academy in 1889, where he became one of its most regularly exhibiting painters from the north of England until 1935. Slater wrote considerably about art for local newspapers and in 1914 he published his “Odds and Ends from an Artist’s Note Book,” which discussed his attitudes and experiences as an artist. In “The Artists of Northumbria,” author Marshall Hall states that he “was one of the most versatile and prolific artists Northumbria has ever produced.”
Slater’s works were very popular in his own time, many being reproduced in newspapers and magazines. He acquired the name, “The Weatherproof Artist,” for his habit of painting landscapes and sea scenes in all kinds of climatic conditions. He is represented in the National Maritime Museum in London, as well as several city museums and art galleries. I have always enjoyed this artist’s distinct impressionistic style and I have handled a number of his landscapes, seascapes, shore scenes and farmyard scenes over the years.
This work, however, is the first of his animal portraits I have even seen. He has given us here his interpretation of a large, white terrier that he portrays as a very personable shaggy dog. The subject is placed against a dark green background, devoid of any distractions, so as to better focus one’s attention on this charming dog. The piece is signed on the lower right. The name of the dog, Watson, appears on the upper left with the date of 1917 just below it.
As Slater painted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this portrait is reminiscent of the Victorian style of dogs presented against a dark background. With broad brush strokes and a simple color palette, he has achieve in this painting remarkable results. Here is a dog that all dog lovers would want to spend time with.
I have framed the portrait in a Victorian mid-19th century maple frame with custom gilded slip. The warm colors of the wood and the wonderful patination compliment the portrait well.
I have had the painting professionally cleaned and restored, and therefore it is in excellent condition. The antique frame is also in excellent condition.
This an exceptionally endearing portrait of a beloved pet that would work well with anyone’s decorating scheme or collection.
It measures 24-3/8 inches wide by 29-3/8 inches high, including the frame.
Portrait of the Terrier, “Watson,” by John Falconer Slater
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