Like Troyon’s paintings of cows, his canine subjects can trace their lineage back to seventeenth century Dutch painting. It was during a trip to Holland in 1846-1847 that Troyon discovered Dutch animal painters; especially Aelbert Cuyp and Paulus Potter and he may also have seen the monumental depictions of dogs by Frans Snyders. But a more contemporary influence on Troyon may have been Gustave Courbet. While Courbet’s repertoire of subjects was more varied than Troyon’s, Courbet was also an accomplished painter of animals and indeed one may argue that these two artists were the greatest French animal painters of the nineteenth century. In 1855, Courbet was also in the spotlight, exhibiting eleven paintings at the Exposition Universelle and forty works in his Pavillon de Realism on the Avenue Montaigne. While Courbet’s subjects would have been the initial attraction, it was more likely his bravura brushwork and paint application that intrigued a fellow “painterly” artist such as Troyon. We can see Courbet’s influence in the coarse coat of Troyon’s basset hound and in the textures of the trees and foliage in the background. If we did not know, we might assume we were in Ornans.
The present work formed part of the extensive collection of the painter Maurice Boudot-Lamotte (1878-1958), who exhibited landscapes, still-lifes and portraits at various Paris Salons in the early twentieth century.
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