Molosser Moment #12
Eclipsed by his more famous peer, Edwin Henry Landseer, 19th-Century English animal painter Richard Andsell was prolific, and proud: He refused to paint Queen Victoria’s dogs unless they were brought to his studio, ruining his chances of ever immortalizing the canine nobility. Andsell’s 1865 “The Poacher at Bay” was the crown jewel of Marie Moore’s art collection (see Moment #7) and modeled on his own Mastiff, “Leo.” In it, a brindle dog intercepts a poacher, whose spilled bag shows a bounty of hare and fowl. The Mastiff commands the center of the painting, as he eyes the poacher’s bull-and-terrier companion at his flank, and the trapped man attempts to hold him.
With the infusion of Bulldog blood to add agility and stamina, the “gamekeeper’s night dog” that patrolled British estates later evolved into an altogether different breed – the Bullmastiff. But Andsell’s majestic guardian predates this, as Bullmastiffs were not recognized as a breed until more than 50 years later.