George Armfield (1808-1893)
Sporting Dogs 1863
oil on canvas
45 x 60.5 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1939
Born 1808, Bristol, England. Died 1893, Clapham, England.
This painting depicts five dogs on an old kitchen floor next to shot game birds in the lower left. It's an image of sparse rural domesticity. The picture is very dark, with its light source from the window on the upper right, highlighting the bottles and pots on the sill and work bench and the worn paint near the shelf niche. Several of the dogs are looking to the right, presumably where a door is located. Perhaps the master is approaching. When this work arrived at the Armidale Teachers' College in 1939, it was hung in the Supper Room.
During the 19th century in England there was a growing love for domestic animals and many artists received commissions to portray them, with George Armfield having a reputation as a one of the finest. He particularly liked to paint sporting dogs such as hounds, terriers and spaniels. The artist's father was a portrait painter in London and it was from him that he likely received most of his artistic training.
Armfield devoted himself to painting from the age of 16, finding sufficient patronage for his skills to make a good living. His portraits of horses and hounds were in great demand, and he was a frequent guest at country houses. He had a reputation for being able to make the animals stay where he wanted so he could sketch them.
He first exhibited with the Royal Academy in 1836, under the name G.A. (George Armfield) Smith, however in 1840 he dropped the name Smith and began to use the name Armfield.