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‘My Model of a Dog’: James Yates Carrington and Teufel the Terrier

When studying the role of the dog in Victorian art it is quite common to encounter little anecdotes and stories pertaining to an artist’s experiences, either with their own dog or a canine sitter of notable character. However none have come to be quite as distinct to me as those of James Yates Carrington and his companion, Teufel the terrier.

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James Yates Carrington and Teufel.

In 1886 the Pall Mall Gazette ran a feature titled ‘An Animal Painter and His Models’ in which they explored the story behind ‘the fisher-dog’ that had gained popularity in the print market (after the original three paintings had been displayed on the line the Royal Academy in 1883, also receiving popular favour).[i]

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Sport by Proxy.

‘Every one has seen in the print shops the three tableaux of the dog turned fisherman, called “Sport by Proxy” ’, the paper observed, ‘showing a fine fox terrier (with a bit of bull in him) sitting by the riverbank’. Another three tableaux, noted to also be ‘on the line’ in the Academy during their 1885 exhibition were also expected to be equally popular.[ii]

The dog occupying these images was Carrington’s terrier Teufel, and the popularity of both artist and terrier rose significantly from that point onwards.

In fact Teufel gained such attention that his escapades were regularly published in the Pall Mall Gazette (and other newspapers, which reproduced the articles with Carrington’s permission)[iii] and Carrington even endeavoured to write his own biography of Teufel’s life. The resulting book was titled Teufel the Terrier.

While Carrington himself had preferred the titles ’My Model of a Dog’ or ‘Teufel the Fox Terrier with a Bit of Bull in Him’ its final title was chosen for its three T’s, which had a jingle to them that was designed to attract readers with its alliteration. ‘Poor Teuf!’, Carrington lamented in the first chapter of the book, ‘that I should have sacrificed thee in the cause of alliteration and a good line for the cover!’.[iv]

Teufel the Terrier went on to be immensely popular and enjoyed multiple print runs. Some of the editions were meant as a luxury—bound in ‘handsome and substantial form and printed on specifically made paper’[v] as a Christmas present—whereas others became accessible for as little as one shilling.

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In addition to recounting tales from the life of Teufel, Carrington also used this book as an opportunity to provide the public with insights into how he worked and what the life of an animal painter might be like. Interestingly, in one encounter, with two potential American buyers, he listed the prices of two of his works as £40 and £150[vi] (higher than the prices of other popular canine artists of the time, such as Charles Burton Barber).

Yet, had it not been for Teufel, James Yates Carrington may have never received the praise and public attention that be managed to muster at the time. This is something that Carrington himself admits in his canine biography.

Born in April 1857, at Heathfield, Stockport, James Yates Carrington was the fourth son of Mr. Samuel Ratcliffe Carrington (the head of a firm of Stockport hat manufacturers). Carrington received his first lesson in painting from Mr. J.H.E. Partington and went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. However, at the time of purchasing Teufel Carrington was not an animal painter at all and, instead, had tried to establish himself as a landscape painter.

Still, upon receiving Teufel Carrington’s artistic attentions started to shift and he found himself more and more invested in depicting his faithful companion Teufel. In an obituary for Carrington the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser notes that this was a turning point for Carrington’s career as ‘when about to relinquish art he began the series of “Teufel” pictures, now known throughout the world’. [vii]

In his own recollection Carrington also highlights his decision:

‘One night as I was smoking my pipe I reflected as follows, addressing my remarks to Teufel: “Why should I waste my substance any longer in painting umbrageous landscapes, and bosky dells, and golden commons? The public don’t want them—that is very evident—and there are hundreds of fellows who are attending to the same departments of Nature. I will go in for dogs; and Teufel, my lad, thou shalt earn thy living’.[viii]

Whether or not Carrington was truly so close to forsaking the arts altogether is not entirely certain; such a story makes for a good tale but it pays to be sceptical of such neat narratives. However, what cannot be denied is the significance that Teufel had in this decision and the success that came from it.

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Teufel sitting for his portrait.

Through a shrewd business decision, a love of his dog, or (most likely) both Carrington defined his career that day, all on the basis of his interactions with his own canine companion. As as result Carrington’s career acts as a significant case study for the developing human/canine relations of the Victorian period; demonstrating a beneficial relationship between artist and dog, the dialogue of which became manifest through Carrington’s many artworks.

Indeed when talking of Carrington in 1886 the Pall Mall Gazette makes note that Carrington accredited ‘much of his good fortune to his dog Teufel, who gave him his ideas, and was also the model, for it is a lifelike portrait of his excellent fox terrier which now adorns the walls of hundreds of the houses of sporting men’.[ix]

Carrington’s own accounts of Teufel also indicate that his relationship with Teufel was a sincere and deeply caring one. Despite being named for the German word for devil (owing to his initial mischievous nature) Carrington speaks fondly of ‘Teuf’ throughout his canine biography.

In his book there are also multiple references to the idea that Teufel wasn’t simply owned by an artist but was also initiated into the arts himself. During his devilish days, when first introduced to Carrington’s studio, there is one recollection in which Teufel had escaped another attempt to restrain him and had devoured many of Carrington’s work tools:

‘What a scene of havoc and destruction lay before me!…Another heap further on included a paint-box the lid of which had been torn off. A sheaf of brushes had been chawed up, a bundle of tubes lay scattered about, and the biggest tube, which contained what we call flake-white was munched to pieces…

From that day I have never wondered that Teufel should have taken to the Fine Arts so kindly. After swallowing brushes and tubes, he had no alternative’.[x]

Further accounts in the book go on to describe how Teufel was both artistically inclined and the artistic inspiration for Carrington’s work.

Teufel's first taste of the fine arts.

Teufel’s first taste of the fine arts.

The recollection of ‘Teufel’s First Taste of the Fine Arts’ was also featured in the Graphic in 1891, accompanied with the high praise that ‘Everyone has heard of Teufel—the famous fox-terrier whose physiognomy Mr. Yates Carrington has introduced into so many pictures, and whose premature death caused his artist-master to publish what is perhaps the most elaborate canine biography ever written’.[xi]

Teufel, it seems, also came to be a companion in Carrington’s life when he most needed him, which further validates Carrington’s feelings of Teufel as both subject and artistic companion. This is seen in Carrington’s recollection of an incident where Teufel ran away during the early stages of their relationship:

‘I didn’t tell anyone of my trouble, for I knew they would only laugh at me for grieving about such a trifle as a terrier. But I had got to love the little fellow, having no one else at that tim, and I used to talk to him about Art, and slang the public taste in his presence for declining to recognise the merits of my Munich interiors, my Burnham Beeches all ablaze with colour, or my cattle knee-deep in the liquid Thames.’[xii]

This perceived sharing of the arts between an owner and his dog not only makes for an interesting story today but also seemed to catch the public’s attention at the time, as the popularity of Teufel the Terrier and Carrington’s work demonstrates. In fact in 1891 Carrington was able to run an exhibit of artworks primarily dedicated to Teufel.

Teufel next to some of Carrington's artwork.

Teufel next to some of Carrington’s artwork.

On the topic of the exhibition the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser acknowledged this relationship and its distinctive appeal, noting that:

‘There are many curious accidents in an artist’s life, and the merest chance has discovered the line of art in which excellence is to be obtained. In Mr. Carrington’s case the sudden change from landscape artist to animal painting is peculiar and almost unique. The story is told in the book of Teufel’s life, and to that we must refer our readers. Suffice it to say that the affection and attachment between Mr. Carrington and his dog ripened into a result which has given to the world a charming, almost romantic story and a set of pictures of dog life, unsurpassed by any living animal painter’.[xiii]

As you may have already noticed, it was Teufel’s death that prompted Carrington to publish his book dedicated to the life of his much loved terrier. The passing of Teufel is a further testament to Carrington’s attachment to Teufel and Teufel was buried with the following dedication:

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The first part of this epitaph was repeated in the advertisement of Carrington’s Teufel exhibition, further authenticating the importance of Teufel to his owner’s artistic career and life as a whole.

Carrington passed away only a few years later, on Sunday 1st May, 1892 (aged 35). In various obituaries he was remembered for his relationship with Teufel. On the 28th of May the Pall Mall Gazette advertised ‘To Every Lover of a Dog’ the auctioning off of Carrington’s pictures and possessions, as well as the right to rent his studio. The article highlights, in particular, ‘The Strolling Players’—Carrington’s last painting to include Teufel before his passing—which is noted, again, to have hung on the line when exhibited in the Royal Academy.[xiv]

The advertisement for this auction (as well as the quote below) hints at a large body of work, in oils, watercolours, etchings, photographs, sketches, which makes me lament a little at the scarcity of Carrington’s work in museums, auctions, or even in an online search.

‘When I look round my studio to-night, smoking a contemplative pipe for the purpose of inspiring this chapter, I cannot help thinking of what my old dog has done for me…As you come down the fight of steps which leads you into the studio just a glance at the panelled wall on your right. You see Teufel everywhere—Teufel with a pipe in his mouth, with a rod in front of him, with little Dorothy, Teufel in the house boat, Teufel ratting, Teufel watching a beetle crawling on his tail. I quite lose myself in trying to count how many times I painted him’.[xv]

Through the quantity of his work, his own writings, and the accounts of various newspapers, it is undeniable that the influence of Teufel on Carrington’s work was both significant and understood as being observably unique at the time. The relationship the two shared ultimately defined Carrington’s career while simultaneously winning over the public, propagating Teufel’s status as a canine celebrity.

As such we should look to Carrington and his dog Teufel as a notable example of canine/human relationships in the field of Art History; someone who defined his life, his artwork, and the canine art and print market through the inseparable bond he had with his devilish terrier (with a bit of bull in him).

‘Teufel the Terrier is dead, but his fame will live for ever. From the day when, immortalised by the brush of his master, Mr. J. Yates Carrington, he first appeared in the public…he has been the friend of thousands who knew neither his name nor his history. Year after year people used to look for the “fox-terrier with just a touch of the bull in him” on the walls of the Royal Academy…This story of his life is illustrated by capital reproductions of the sketched and finished works which made Teufel known to every lover of dogs in the Kingdom’.[xvi]

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[i] ‘Death of Mr. Yates Carrington’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Tuesday 3rd May, 1892.

[ii] ‘An Animal Painter and His Models’, Pall Mall Gazette, Wednesday 26th May, 1886.

[iii] ‘The Story of the Fisher-Dog’, The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Saturday 12th June, 1886.

[iv] J. Yates Carrington & Charles Morley, Teufel the Terrier; Or the Life and Adventures of an Artist’s Dog, 1891, p. 2.

[v] ‘Teufel the Terrier’, Pall Mall Gazette, Tuesday 18th November, 1890.

[vi] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, p. 58.

[vii] ‘Death of Mr. Yates Carrington’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Tuesday 3rd May, 1892.

[viii] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, p. 25.

[ix] ‘An Animal Painter and His Models’, Pall Mall Gazette, 1886.

[x] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, Pp. 7-8.

[xi] ‘Teufel’s First Taste of the Fine Arts’, The Graphic, Saturday 31st January, 1891.

[xii] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, p. 12.

[xiii] ‘Teufel the Terrier’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Friday 16th January 1891.

[xiv] ‘To Every Lover of a Dog; The Late Mr. Yates Carrington’s Pictures’, Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday 28th May 1892.

[xv] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, P.p. 41-43.

[xvi] ‘Christmas Books’, The Graphic, Saturday 20th December, 1890.

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PUNCS Conference Talk 2015

PUNCSTalk2015Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of giving a short 10 minute presentation at the inaugural event for PUNCS: Plymouth University Nineteenth Century Studies.

PUNCS is a fantastic new interdisciplinary forum through which researchers working on themes across the globe which speak to the long nineteenth-century can connect and discuss their research. In time PUNCS hopes to foster opportunities for collaboration and this was particularly apparent in the one-day conference event that I attended.

The last panel in particular, which looked prevalently at the methods through which every day offences were reported between 1880 and 1920 demonstrated strong links between people’s research topics as well as the overall potential that collaborative projects hold.

My own talk was titled ‘Canine Character: Reading the Dog in Victorian Visual Culture’ and briefly addressed some research points that have interested me recently. In particular I have been interested in exploring the impact of the dog fancy when it came to canine visuals and the notion of ‘reading’ a show dog for its aesthetic appeal. The impact of this move towards canine connoisseurship, I propose, had significant implications concerning how audiences consequently came to view dogs in imagery. The potential construction of a readable canine physiognomy and/or phrenology and the subsequent implications of such are of a particular interest to me.

The rest of the talks were intellectually rich and impressively diverse, including a talk on the reception of Vasari’s Lives of the Artists in mid-Victorian Britain by Dr. Jenny Graham, a reading of Plymouth’s own Cottonian Collection by PhD researcher Susan Leedham, an exploration into the theme of Mercy by Dr. James Gregory, and some insights into the lives of the working-class female when it came to Mechanics’ Institutes in Victorian Britain by PhD Researcher Doug Watson.

If you would like to know more about PUNCS then I encourage you to go and explore their site. No doubt there will be more engaging events upcoming.

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AAH New Voices Conference 2014

aah2014titleTheme: A Picture of Health: Representations and Imaginations of Wellbeing and Illness.

Talk Time: 20 Minutes.

Title: Class Contagions and Canine Culprits: Rapid Representations and the Middle Class Imagination in Victorian Britain.

Abstract:

“in all large towns there are dangerous classes among the dogs as well as among the human population […] whose delight it is to bark and bite in an indiscriminate manner, and who, if they are once affected by the fatal virus, become at once active propagators of it far and wide”

‘Dogs and Dog Law’, All The Year Round, 1886, p. 426.

During the Victorian period rabies (or hydrophobia, as it was known in humans) gained a lot of momentum in the imagination of the public. Media depictions were frequent, laws were passed, and people had many different ideas about what turned a dog mad.

Yet despite public concerns regarding rabies, ‘mad dogs’, and the notorious ‘dog days’ of summer, there were very few incidents of confirmed rabies throughout the period. What, then, caused such avid fear and attention from the Victorian public?

This talk will explore one of the factors.

Looking at imagery representing rabies, this talk will propose that the middle classes feared rabies as more than just a disease. Instead rabies became viewed as a contagion—propagated by the lower and dangerous classes—which had the potential to attack and corrupt the wellbeing of middle class bodies, values and morals.

This middle class imagination, it will be proposed, was reinforced by visual representations of rabies; which served to strengthen notions of mad dogs as violent, law-breaking, and dangerous curs of the streets rather than the afflicted and ailing animals that they were.

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The New Police Regulations of Dogs (Detail), The Graphic, 1885, p.697.

The V&A Presents: Paw Prints

Last month, to commemorate the end of Crufts, Cathrin Yarnell decided to showcase some of the V&A’s many dog-related prints, drawings and paintings. Her post, titled ‘Paw Prints‘, can be seen here and I recommend it to avid dog-lovers and canine art appreciators alike.

Personally I was delighted to see that some of the canine motifs that my thesis will cover are presented in this doggy display.

The dog mourner is readily shown with Landseer’s prominent The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner, while the dog as a saviour (in this case of children) is shown through the typically noble Newfoundland in a print simply titled The Newfoundland Dog.

The rising popularity and diligence of dog portraiture is represented readily in the image of Rodney by Byran Edward Duppa. Yarnell is eager to point out that this portrait of Rodney “has been executed with all of the care of a human portrait”, a concept that shall be explored in my own work.

The final print in Yarnell’s post does well to illustrate a range of canine motifs that were popular in Victorian Britain–The dog as saviour (or both man and child), the noble dog of the aristocracy, the dutiful and humble dog of the countryside, and the dog as comfort and aid to beggars, to name a few. It is nice to know that such motifs still capture people’s imagination even today.

Breed Standards Have Gone to the Dogs

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While it is outside of my current research scope, some of my readers might be interested in this recent article from the Daily Mail online concerning the differences in pedigree dogs from 1915 to our current canine companions.

The original post that inspired this news can be found on the blog of Mus Musculus, PhD, titled Science of Dogs. He has also since revised that post, adding skull comparisons in addition to photographs.

While the images in the blog post may be disturbing enough for some other bloggers have responded in kind to Musculus’ blog post, by posting some images of their own.

One such blogger is Jemima Harrison, director of the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and owner of a blog of the same name. Looking at both the Daily Mail new report and the original blog posts, Jemima provides further examples of the Basset Hound, the German Shepherd, and the Dachshund in her own post.

While some might find Jemima’s blog to be controversial, the comparisons brought to light (by Musculus’ posts, at least) show the troubling developments that have occurred to the breed standard of some dogs over the past 100 years.

With such issues currently at the forefront of public concern, studies into the development and cultural treatment of the dog throughout history become all the more socially relevant.

University of Plymouth Conference, The ‘Arts’ in History 2012

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Theme: How the ‘arts’, and the way they have been studied over time, offers an insight to societies of the past and present.

Talk Time: 20 Minutes

Title: Canine Contexts: Understanding the Role of the Dog in British Victorian art.

Location: Plymouth University, Roland Levinsky Building.

Date: 15th June

Abstract: Once one asserts the notion that art reflects the time within which it was made, it can be proposed that every element within visual culture comes with its own notable history; influenced by the society and culture within which it was produced.

This paper aims to explore one seemingly unassuming, element within Victorian visual culture; that of the dog.

Using the painting Work (1852-65) by Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893) as a case study, this paper will demonstrate the significance that social and cultural contexts played within the placing of the dog in both fine art works and other visual mediums of the Victorian era. Looking at a multitude of issues; from pet keeping and dog shows to dog thieves and ‘mad dogs’; each dog within Work shall be explored and elaborated upon within this paper, including the widely unmentioned or unnoticed ‘fifth dog’ in the artwork.

Through this, visual representations of dogs within Victorian visual culture shall be argued as adding a canine context to artworks of the time; reflecting wider issues such as those of class, human identity and the crossing of public and domestic spheres, and contributing to a more profound understanding of the artworks they occupy.

The eventual realisation that viewers should gain by the end of the talk is that not only are representations of dogs within Victorian art significant, but they are also dependant on an in-depth understanding of the historical, social and cultural contexts within which they were produced.

Force of Habit in Punch, or the London Charivari , London, England, October 22, 1864, New Readerships, p. 168.

Force of Habit in Punch, or the London Charivari , London, England, October 22, 1864, New Readerships, p. 168.

AAH New Voices Conference 2011

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Theme: Madness & Revolt

Talk Time: 20 Minutes

Title: The Dog Days: Canine Class Contagions and Political Parodies in Victorian Visual Culture

Abstract:
 “The pattern of public response to rabies outbreaks demonstrated the extent to which the disease existed in the realm of rhetoric. The first alert was ordinarily sounded by the press, rather than by medical authorities or government officials, and it was often couched in terms that seemed calculated to inspire and exasperate fear”

Ritvo, Harriet, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age, Cambridge, U.K.; Harvard University Press, 1987, Pg. 171.

In Victorian Britain rabies and hydrophobia, its then human counterpart, provoked a myriad of reactions in both academic fields and the public sphere.

Amidst these reactions grew a sense of magnitude to the disease which vastly surpassed the objective realities- a growth constructed and propagated through representations of dogs parodied in the popular media of the time, as highlighted in the above quote.

This paper aims to explore this sensation of Victorian visual parodies of canine madness through an exploration of the press’s representations of mad dogs- Proposing that the conceptual construction of the rabid dog became used as a conduit for social and political commentary.

This shall include a heavy focus on class anxieties; exploring middle class fears that rabies had the ability to infect and corrupt, not only the body, but also the integrity and class of society, demonstrating representations of this in visual media.

The paper shall then progress to look at the mad dog’s representation, and prompting of, criticisms of the legal system- through the visual analysis of encounters between dogs and mockingly inept and overwhelmed Police Officers turned Dog Catchers.

The paper will end on the exploration of why rabies and the madness of dogs prompted such swift interaction and embellishment from the Press, and such a public unrest, proposing media parody as a form of revolt.

Cave Canem, Or Dog(berry) Law, Punch (London, England), Saturday, September 14, 1867; pg. 106.

Cave Canem, Or Dog(berry) Law, Punch (London, England), Saturday, September 14, 1867; pg. 106.