In April of 1999 I wrote about the most famous picture of a Newfoundland – Sir Edwin Landseer’s A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society. At that time I mentioned that the original, owned by the Tate Gallery in London had been taken off display. It had suffered damage from flood waters and the Newfoundland Club of America was raising funds to help restore it and in return the portrait was to be displayed for three years in the United States.
If you are wondering why all the fuss about a picture of a Newfoundland dog, the answer is simple. It is an exceptional work, one of kind and no reproduction does it full justice.
To give you an idea of the value of A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society, one of Landseer’s Newf paintings that I personally don’t find to be exceptional, Neptune, sold for $500,000 US in 1989. The highest price ever paid for an animal painting was for a picture of a Newfoundland dog by the 18th century artist, George Stubbs, known primarily for his paintings of horses. It sold at auction in 1999 for $3.6 million US. There is no question in my mind that the Distinguished Member is worth many times more than the Stubbs painting, making it for all practical purposes, since it isn’t even available for sale, priceless.
Peter Maniate has been writing columns for the Newf News, the magazine of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada, since 1979. In 1996 he started writing a Newfoundland dog column in the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine on behalf of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada. When Dogs in Canada ceased publication at the end of 2011 he continued the Breedlines column in the Newf Newfs.
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