A wonderfully dramatic and naive oil on canvas portrait of a greyhound called 'Friend', from the successful kennels of Major Topham of Yorkshire, and dating from the early 19th century.
Attached to the reverse of the painting is a old and damaged print from which the painting was copied. It is this print which gives the information I have, see the photograph below.
Restored and reframed in a contemporary sympathetic frame.
Frame: 30" x 24.5" 76cm x 62cm
Sight: 24.75" x 19" 63cm x 48cm
Major Edward Topham
Edward Topham (1751–1820) was an English journalist and playwright, educated at Eton and Cambridge. He has a long entry on Wikipedia and I think can be described as an archetypal man about town of the period, well connected and wealthy.
He travelled throughout Europe as young men of the time did, and on his return purchased a military commission, in which he was successful and efficient, rising through the ranks and as "the tip-top adjutant'
Topham also became known in the fashionable world of London for his original style of dress and the ease and elegance of his manners.
After leaving the army, his talent as a writer of prologues and epilogues introduced him to the leading actors of the day, and led to his career as a playwright and journalist, which also led him into the libel courts.
Bored of London life he retired to Wold Cottage, about two miles from Thwing, East Riding of Yorkshire. It was rumoured that he intended to spend the rest of his days in farming his hundreds of acres of land and in writing the history of his own life.
His kennels were considered the best in England, and his greyhound "Snowball" was praised as "one of the best and fleetest greyhounds that ever ran", and "his breed all most excellent".
If this were not enough a meteoric stone fell on the afternoon of Sunday, 13 December 1795, within two fields of his home, Wold Cottage, (actually a large house). This event he publicised widely and he erected a monument where it fell.
In a letter dated 8 February 1796 and published in the press he states it was immediately dug up, warm and smoking, weighed 3 stone 13 pounds, it had buried itself through 12 inches of soil and in six inches of solid chalk rock.
Edward Topham by John Russell c1795, public domain