"Old English Bulldog" Dog Portrait
British School, Circa 1820
Oil Painting on Canvas on Board
10-1/2 x 10-1/4 (13-3/4 x 14-1/2 w/frame)
The now extinct English bulldogs were originally breed for bull baiting. This pair seems to be standing to attention with pricked ears and gaunt expression, with one wearing a head halter.
In England during the time of Queen Anne, bull baiting was practiced in London at Hockley-in-the-Hole, twice a week and it was also fairly common in provincial towns.
By the early nineteenth century, the sport began to die out, both because the baiting caused a public nuisance and because of new concerns about animal cruelty. A Bill for the suppression of the practice was introduced into the House of Commons in 1802, but was defeated by thirteen votes. It was not finally outlawed until parliament passed the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835, which forbade the keeping of any house, pit, or another place for baiting or fighting any bull, bear, dog, or another animal.