A dog's head in profile
Philip Reinagle RA (1749 - 1833)
RA Collection: Art
Pencil drawing of a greyhound's head in profile. This drawing is likely to be a study for Reinagle's painting of 'Major', Colonel Thornton's prize-winning dog. Thornton and his friend Major Topham bred greyhounds for coursing hares and succeeded in producing a set of successful dogs. Major was one of these famous dogs and was said to have been unbeaten.
Many of Thornton's greyhounds had been acquired from the Earl of Orford and it is possible that it was through this sporting connection that Reinagle gained the commission for a set of three large-scale paintings of birds for Orford's house, Houghton Hall in Norfolk.
Philip Reinagle began his career as a portraitist having trained with Allan Ramsay. However, during the 1780s and 1790s he began to concentrate instead on landscape and animal painting. During the first decade of the 19th century Reinagle began to specialise in dog painting. This new interest was encouraged by his friendship with the eccentric Colonel Thomas Thornton (1751/2-1853), a keen huntsman and breeder of greyhounds who was also a collector of animal paintings. Reinagle established a reputation as a dog painter through his series of pictures of sporting dogs, which were engraved and published in William Taplin's The Sportsman's Cabinet , London 1803. At least one of the dogs represented in this publication was owned by Thornton.
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