Friday, December 17, 2010

A Man and His Dog

Man with Gun and Dog.

That's pretty much all we know about this 22-inch tall figure in the Fenimore Art Museum collection. It looks to me like a well-dressed gentleman with his Dalmatian and long rifle out for a day of sport hunting in the countryside. He wears a nice suit and necktie along with a cap, all of which seem to indicate an early twentieth-century date for the piece. But we don't really know who made him and for what reason.

The figure is nicely carved, and there is a lot of personality and individual style in the carving of the facial features and the body of the figure. The dog is delightful and charmingly undersized in relation to the man, perhaps because the carver chose a smaller base than would accommodate a more realistically size canine. The carver also went to a great deal of time and effort to create the gun that the man holds at his side. It has a fair amount of detail and is even hollowed out.

The only suggestion that has occurred to us over the years is that this figure might have been a counter-top trade sign for a sporting goods store. I suppose that's a possibility, although these types of signs were not so much in vogue in the twentieth century. But it is not a commercially produced figure anyway, so it might have been commissioned by a store owner who approached a local carver to provide a nice and practical ornament for his shop.

It's also my guess that this man was hunting fowl, but I couldn't tell you for sure. The dog looks like a Dalmatian to me, and they were known to be good bird-dogs. He even looks as if he is pointing with his tail, working while his master poses.

1 comment:

  1. The dog might actually be sized correctly. It could be a Jack Russell or Parson Jack Terrier; a dog breed that is small in size (and often having a spotted coat). This breed is also bred to hunt. Accompanying a farmer on his rounds, the terrier sometimes needs help in dispatching vermin. For this task, a gun provides the necessary guarantee.


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