William   Henry   Hamilton   Trood

(1848 - 3 November 1899, London)

Trood was a painter and sculptor, specialising in painting dogs in particular. Schooled in England, his work is characterised by a highly finished, sympathetic quality with great attention to detail, yet it is rarely sentimental. From his youth Trood lived and studied dogs. Trood said "I have painted them since I was four years old, but not until I was twenty could I paint one properly." At one time he kept a menagerie in the back garden of his Chelsea studio until the neighbors complained of noise. Afterwards he kept a fox, a badger and an otter running loose in his room with his dogs. He once tried hypnotism on a dog to try and keep it to stay still but its eyes looked unnatural. Trood exhibited regularly in England but mainly at the Royal Academy from 1879 to 1898. He also exhibited at Suffolk Street, the New Watercolour Society, Grosvenor Gallery and elsewhere.

Trood’s life and career coincided with the surge in popularity of Dog painting, fuelled by Queen Victoria’s interest (she had many of her dogs painted and owned over seventy at the time of her death) and the increasing fondness towards having dogs as pets. Breeding was also becoming an ever more serious pastime, and Cruft’s first dog show was held in London in 1886. It became ever more desirable to have one’s dogs painted, and Trood’s ability to portray the affection in which many people held their pets led to an extremely successful career.

The Secrets of a Savoyard, by Henry Lytton, 1922

If I had any bent in those days -- apart from fighting and selling jam rolls -- it was in the direction of painting. For water-colour sketches I had a certain aptitude, and painting remains one of my hobbies, taking only second place to my enthusiasm for golf. For tuition I went to W. H. Trood at his studio in Chelsea. Trood in his time was an artist of parts. He had a fine sense of composition and painted many beautiful pictures. If he had not been deaf and dumb he would have made a great actor, for his gift of facial expression was extraordinary. Clubmen are familiar with a well-known set of five action photographs representing a convivial card-player who has gone "nap." Trood was the subject of those photographs.

For some time I attended St. Mark's during the day and went to the studio each evening. I realised very early that there was no money in painting and that it was of little use as a profession. We students were a merry band, and though we had little money, we made the most of what we had to spend. Our studio was only a garret, and it was a common thing for each of us to buy a tough steak for no more than fourpence, grill it with a fork over the meagre fire, and make it serve as our one substantial meal for many hours. It was a Bohemian existence and I have remained a Bohemian ever since. Trood and I were more than master and pupil. We were, if not brothers, then at least uncle and nephew. From time to time we contrived to visit the theatre, for although he could not hear, he loved to study the colour effects on the stage, and had an uncanny talent for following the course of the plot.

William Hamilton Trood has been regarded as one of the most revered dog painters of his time. This painting is a depiction of hounds behind the gates of a kennel looking out at a robin. He is able to tell a simple story through his typical use of natural elements.

View painter's work: William Hamilton Trood (1848-1899)
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