Thursday, February 11, 2010

RCA Victor Dog, "Nipper" - SOLD


5"x 7" Oil on board

Hi! After a much too long break, I hope to be back to more regular painting now. If I make that statement then maybe I'll it will challenge me to not disappoint (myself). hehe,

I've wanted to paint this figurine for a while and in prep for the post was curious about the history, correct name, etc. of the icon. On exploring the internet, I discovered that this little pooch was English and born in 1884. Nipper was a mutt, part bull terrier and trace of fox terrier and liked to nip the back of people's legs, thus his name. After his first owner died, he was adopted by the owner's brother, Francis Barraud, a struggling painter. Nipper was fascinated by the then popular Phonograph, a cylinder recording and playing machine, and often stood before the machine and cocked his head, trying to determine from where the sound, his master's voice, was coming. Barraud commited this scene to memory and three years after Nipper passed away in 1895, he painted the scene.

The painting, "His Master's Voice", followed a long journey through rejection from exhibits, being turned down for reproduction in magazines and experiencing numerous unsuccessful offers to various Phonograph companies for advertising purposes. After several years the painting was finally sold when the phonograph was painted over ( by the artist ) and replaced with the new Gramaphone and was first published in 1900 in the Gramophone Company's advertising literature. Later that year when the company's owner dropped the painting as his label trademark, the Gramaphone's inventer, Emile Berliner, received the copyright for the painting's use in America eventually for the Victor Talking Machine Company (1901 -1929). The copyright was also assigned to Victor Japan in 1904. The history goes on and on with the logo being used today in the music and recording markets.

During his long and active working life, Francis Barraud painted 24 replicas of his painting for the Gramophone Company. Following his death in 1924, other artists carried on painting this scene until the end of the decade. Today the trademark sits firmly in the Top 10 of 'Famous Brands of the 20th Century'. Over the years the market for collectable items related to the trademark has enjoyed a long and wide success. This "Nipper" figurine in my painting is a great example of the many items sold. I never knew that the dog statue was fashioned from a painting and represented a real pet. I just love the painting's name and the precious story.

The history of this artist's pet painting is a great example of an artist's unwavering belief in the value of his work and relentless drive to find the appropriate audience for it. It is a good lesson on how the journey of one's art career is a life long persuit and not an overnight destination. We can take from his story much about staying the course and not giving up on the work we believe in. Even at the turn of the century, the artist had to leave his studio and engage in the business side of the art business to make things happen. I didn't find any info on his monetary compensation for the original painting, but the first one led to 24 others! This story encourages me to think outside the box and be open to ways to multiply my efforts and I hope you found it inspirational as well.


Edward Burton said...

An absolutely wonderful and charming painting, Marilyn. Thank you for filling us in with Nipper's history - very interesting.

Kerri Settle said...

I've always loved the original painting and I like your take on Nipper, too! Thanks for including the history behind it.

Anonymous said...

very handy, thanx a lot for this articel ....... This is what I was looking for.