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Pet enthusiasts, especially those with an appreciation for art or jewelry need look no further than Hamshere Gallery out of London. Discovered at The Los Angeles Antiques Show, with internationally prominent galleries and art dealers approved by the prestigious Antique Dealer?s Association of California, a mischievous grin caught my eye.
Hamshere Gallery holds the largest collection of antique dog paintings in England and the largest collection of period and antique sport jewelry in the world. Following is an interview with John Hamshere (JH), of Hamshere Gallery.
MB (Monte Bubbles): I?m here at the LA Antiques Show and noticed some beautiful antique dog paintings and had to stop. Can you tell me about your company, Hamshere Gallery?
JH (John Hamshere): We have the largest collection of dog paintings and dog jewelry probably in the world. There?s nobody that has anything this sort of size, specializing in this way and a large collection of dog painting in England, and everybody has dogs.
MB: Did you know 60% of the population in the U.S. has pets?
JH: I didn?t know that. It?s a very interesting statistic. In England, it?s the second biggest hobby after gardening. I don?t know what it?s like in America. The second biggest hobby after gardening is pets.
MB: They count it as a hobby?
JH: In expenditure terms, how people spend their money. It?s very interesting. My dogs at home aren?t a hobby, they?re members of the family. They?re not pets. They?re the kids, as well as the kids, so we?ve got many kids.
Statistics wise they divide it up into a hobby, or a pursuit if you like, so gardening?s the first, pets are the second biggest. So it doesn?t surprise me the 60%.
MB: We?re at an antiques show, does your company only have antiques or do they have more current things too for animals?
JH: At the moment., we have only antiques. We just started with one fantastic artist, who really is extraordinary. who came upon us because she stood in front and saw the quality of the work and saw the individualism of the work, if you like, and realized that all the paintings you see here, people actually had the dog in front of them, and painted with the dog in front of them. Today people paint, very easily, you can get something very cheaply done or reasonably done through a photograph. These dogs were painted over a day maybe over 2 days, and somebody sat there and went back to the client went back to the customer, and took time painting the dog.
We found somebody like that, who want s it exactly the same, who can see why they all have feeling. They all have realism. They all have life. They all have an understanding. Dog paintings comes in a way whereby often the people that paint dogs, they take many years to specialize in painting dogs. They have a feeling for dogs. They have a feeling for animals. They may have lived on a farm. They may have had horses. They may have had a farm or own a farm. They have lived with nature. They live with animals and perhaps the only way to really make it in dog paintings, is to live with them, and have the dog there and understand the dog, and paint the dog, and know the characteristics of the dog.
MB: Are you a painter or an artist?
JH: I ?m not a painter. I?d love to have the talent, but I don?t, I can?t. I can take photographs, good photographs. I have an eye. I have an appreciation. The reason you see such wonderful paintings here is I have an eye, to be able to pick, to select the right quality. I can do it through a camera lens but I can?t do it with a brush or a pencil.
MB: You?ve touched on a special artist, can we know their name or is that a secret?
JH: It will be released very soon, very shortly.
MB: Since you work with all these antiques, over time, what makes one dog painting more valuable than another?
JH: It?s a little bit like art really. The problem with art is sometimes it?s fashion, sometimes people chase particular names, sometimes they chase particular dogs. There might be more people chasing Poodles or King Charles Cavaliers. There might be few people chasing Pyrenees Mountain Dogs or Burmese Mountain Dogs. It?s the popularity.
In America there?s an artist called Arthur Wardle and Arthur Wardle is just a sought after artist. There?s an artist called Maldur, she?s a sought after artist, whereas I think her father, George may be equally or might be better., but he?s not sought after as much as Maldur. Maldur, Americans love and is a sought after artist
MB: In the Us do they pay more for the artist or the breed?
JH: It?s the breed, the artist, of course quality. People who look at the paintings. It?s like, why does anything sell or make a certain price? There is a name. There is a breed, there is fashion, but there is quality. The best things, people can see quality and they buy quality.
MB: Do you find the same thing happens in Europe?
JH: It?s the same in Europe and England. Americans are no different. It?s fashion, quality, name, dog, artist. Its? the same criteria It doesn?t make any difference.
MB: You mentioned you?ve been at other shows, and you?ve mentioned the AKC/Eukanuba nationals in Tampa, where else have you shown?
JH: Westminster of course followed by Crufts. If I keep going on to dog shows, I would go to the European dog show in Helsinki. We probably won?t go to the World Dog Show in Poland, no particular reason we?ve got other commitments.
MB: So you make the big circuit?
JH: We have to make the big circuit. Our clients, people who buy at the antiques shows don?t got to the dog shows, and the dog show people don?t come to the antiques shows, although they might both buy antique dog paintings.
MB: Do you carry other animals other than dogs because I notice a few cats
Basically dogs and some cats. When it comes to the jewelry, you?ll see other fabulous pieces such as this fabulous diamond polo player, a fabulous Victorian diamond horseracing, very English football from 1910, Lalique pendant from 1910. So we specialize in sporting jewelry and dog paintings and some cat paintings.
MB: If you were to advise someone that was starting to collect antiques with dogs in them, what would you advise them to buy?
JH: Buy what you like. Whatever you?re buying in antiques, never buy for investments. Buy because you want to put in on your wall, put that in your cabinet, put it on your dresser or table. You want to sit around an antique table, you want an antique painting. Buy it because you like it never buy it for investment. Nothing ever goes down. Everything gets more expensive. Buy it because you want to enjoy it and you want to have it as a lifestyle Something you want to walk into your home and say, fantastic, that?s beautiful, I remember buying it at this show in 1989 or 2006 or whenever you bought it or whatever that period was.
We?re looking forward to discovering Hamshere Gallery?s artist that caught the eye of owner John Hamshere. Until then, digital pictures will capture the spirit.