Tag Archives: Dog Art

‘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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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 Black Dog’s Progress

In this post I’d like to go off-theme a bit and briefly explore a short animation that has stayed with me as a personal favourite since I first saw it on Channel 4 in 2008. Stephen Irwin’s ‘The Black Dog’s’ progress was originally commissioned by Animate Projects as a web-exclusive however, with a bit of help from Arts Council England funding, it was instead broadcast on Channel 4 as part of a show called AnimateTV.

Irwin himself encourages the film as something that can be re-watched and explored at the viewer’s own pace and, once ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’ has been viewed, one can see why Irwin encouraged a few re-watches (at least!). The frantic and non-linear ensemble of this animation’s narrative can leave the viewer’s eyes darting from one frame of this grim (but compelling) tale’s flip-book structure to another, not wishing to miss a single moment. However, with the help of a spotlight as a guide, the main story still manages to entice the viewer’s attention—allowing them to share in the tragic experiences of this animation’s naïve protagonist, the black dog.

Whilst I encourage people to watch the animation themselves (despite its possibly disturbing themes) I’ll also give an overview of this animation as I interpret it.

As the first flip-book comes to view on a rather blank screen the black dog is seen popping out of a birthday box, ready to be welcomed into his new home with open arms. This moment, however, is short-lived as the young boy starts to sneeze and the now-unwanted dog is swiftly and unsympathetically thrown into the trash.

It is at defining point of abandonment—in which the black dog falls out of the trash can, and finds himself questioning exactly where he may find his home—that the neighbourhood starts to expand. Both the troubling, erratic flip-book imagery and the sinister music make it apparent that the black dog’s story shall not be a happy one and, as a spot light comes to guide us along the dog’s journey, it’s not too long until this suspicion is confirmed.

Reaching out hopefully to a potential new owner the black dog finds his paw sharply bitten off, as all it can do it scream out in pain. Screaming out, but with no home to rest in, the black dog continues to desperately try and find a home, paw prints of blood seen behind him.

Unfortunately this neighbourhood offers no respite, and the black dog finds himself being literally consumed by his next ‘home’, as the carnal desires of the home’s owner mean that the black dog soon finds himself the distressed victim of bestiality. Screaming out once more.

The experience leaves the black dog bleeding once-more, and not even things that we would usually associate with innocence and childhood (a balloon and a flower with a smiley face) can offer solace to the black dog. Emaciated and exhausted by his search for a home all the black dog can do is vomit on the flower whilst bleeding—any sense of his initial hope and naiveté lost in the moment.

In the next point of progression the dog’s expression has changed dramatically. Far from looking hopeful or victimised the dog instead looks determined. Placing on boots (with one foot still bleeding heavily) he ventures onwards.

This moment is very interesting from my point of view. The way I have chosen to interpret this is that the dog now wishes to try its original home—the genesis of its progression and the only point where he actually encounters a friendly face (if only for a moment) in the form of the boy he is gifted to. However, with the boys allergies to dogs he cannot go back in his current state and so he determines to change himself, become something that the boy will not sneeze at, become human.

In the tragic conclusion, however, by the time the black dog gets back to his original home his experiences at the hands of the worst of humankind has changed him irreparably and he returns home a monstrosity—not human, nor dog, and certainly not welcomed by the mother of the home.

As he looks down at the mother of the home with a pleading expression the mother doesn’t hesitate to burn him where he stands. The black dog lets out one final scream of pain (symbolised to great effect by the musical score of this animation) as the word unravels around him—flames, blood and black smoke bleeds outwards from various points until we are left with very little (and yet so much) to look at. In this jarring conclusion we are left with the title of the animation ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’.

For their efforts when it came to ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’, Stephen Irwin & Sorenious Bonk both received high acclaim—with ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’ winning the Best Short Film award, and Sorenious Bonk being awarded the Best Sound award at the 2010 British Animation Awards, and this comes as no surprise.

Technically ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’ is impressive. Over 50 flip-books were made in order to represent all of the various scenes, and these were hand-drawn, scanned and then assembled in Photoshop before becoming the finishing project that we see on the screen. Composer Sorenious Bonk also does a fantastic job with the accompanying music for this animation—as violins, double bass, trumpets, percussion a mandolin and a 100-year-old autoharp came together to collaborate near seamlessly with the catastrophic adventures of the black dog.

Meanwhile the motivations and the inspirations for ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’ don’t go unnoticed within the animation itself. Irwin claims to have taken inspiration from William Hogarth’s ‘A Rakes Progress’ and, like a Hogarth, his anxious narrative allows the viewer to look at ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’ over and over again and still manage to spot some new element and there’s that sense of multiplicity.

Irwin’s tragic animation was also inspired by a news story he had heard, in which a woman who had tried to get rid of the family dog numerous times without success decided to set it on fire, only to have the fire spread and kill her young children. This can be seen in the animation as the mother of the story is represented as a body with a giant mouth on her head—she has no eyes and doesn’t judge the situation, she only shouts orders, commands and reacts instead of viewing the black dog’s plight, or alternative methods of re-homing the dog. This is her eventual downfall, as her fire burns and destroys the animation, leaving only blood.

In this way it can be assumed Irwin was also trying to make a nod back to the inspiration of Hogarth’s artwork, as Hogarth, too, was known for trying to depict the issues of the day in his busy moral narratives.  However, this is where the clear parallels end and, at the end of the day, as much as I adore ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’ I can’t help but feel that this inspiration point is unclear at points.

Whilst ‘A Rake’s Progress’ takes on Tom Rakewell and its ‘modern moral subject’, and makes an example out of his foolish choices to succumb to the temptations of the opulent world of depravity and self-destruction that he found himself in (despite the many chances of redemption he gets in the form of the poor, but moral, Sarah Young), the black dog is simply a casualty of the abusive neighbourhood that it has found itself in.

The lack of agency that the dog has and it’s simple and understandable drive to find a home means that, far from being a ‘modern moral subject’ the black dog is the innocent party within an abusive landscape—the overall moral message, as Irwin highlights, concerning animal cruelty. As such there is a mismatch, a misunderstanding or perhaps just a deliberate oversight of the key structure of ‘A Rake’s Progress’ (and Hogarth’s moral narratives in general) and, whilst Irwin would perhaps suggest that the black dog is metonymically aligned with Tom Rakewell, I personally cannot help but see him as more aligned with the victimised dog from ‘The Four Stages of Cruelty- The First Stage of Cruelty’—who finds itself subject to Tom Nero’s cruelty, as him and his friends hold the dog down whilst an arrow is inserted into the dog’s anus.

However, despite this, ‘The Black Dog’s Progress’ does not lack anything as a result of this divergence, and manages to stand alone as a very strong piece of animation that, for some audiences (such as myself), will resonate with the viewer long after they have seen it.

 

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[Source]

For more on Stephen Irwin why not check out his website?