A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society

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A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society
A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society by Sir Edwin Landseer.jpg
Artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer
Year 1831 (1831)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 111.8 cm × 143.5 cm (44.0 in × 56.5 in)
Location Tate Collection

A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society is an 1831 oil on canvas work by English painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer depicting a Newfoundland dog. The original was damaged in a flood whilst on loan to the Tate Gallery in 1928, and was returned to public view for the first time in 50 years after it was restored in 2009.


The dog in the painting is meant to be "Bob", a dog that was found in a shipwreck off the coast of England. The dog found his way to the London waterfront where he became known for saving people from drowning, a total of twenty–three times over the course of fourteen years. For this, he was made a distinguished member of the Royal Humane Society, granting him a medal and access to food.[1]

The painting was bequeathed to the Tate Collection by Newman Smith in 1887.[2] The painting was damaged in a flood at the London Tate Gallery in 1928,[3] which required extensive restoration work.[4] Following the restoration work which was coordinated by Ron Pemberton, the painting went on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 2002–2005.[5] The painting went on loan to The Kennel Club in 2009 in order to form part of the Pets & Prizewinners exhibition at the Kennel Club Art Gallery in London. Prior to this display, it had been unseen in the UK for over fifty years.[6] The coloration of the breed as featured in the painting has become known as a "Landseer".[7]

A 19th century copy of the painting by George Cole was sold by auctioneers Bonhams for £7,200 in March 2007.[8]


The dog is painted against a threatening dull sky, in order to highlight the dog himself with the darkened markings on his head standing out.[1] The dog reclines on a quayside, while water ripples against the sea-wall. The shadow of the dog is cast on his own flank.[9] The painting was described by The Art Journal as being "one of the best and most interesting publications of the year", and "Mr Thomas Landseer's first great effort in this department of the art".[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Newfoundland in Art & Literature". Newfoundland Club of America. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society". The Tate Collection. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  3. ^ http://www2.tate.org.uk/archivejourneys/historyhtml/flood.htm
  4. ^ "Support The Distinguished Member Restoration Project". Newfoundland Club of America. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Roberts, Mary Lou (April 2003). "Remembering Two Gentle Giants". Newfoundland Club of America. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Exclusive Landseer Work Graces Victorian Canine Art Exhibition". The Kennel Club. 2 July 2009. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Story, George M. (1990). Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-8020-5887-4. 
  8. ^ "Lot Details: A Distinguished Member of The Humane Society". Bonhams. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Stephens, Frederic George (1880). Sir Edwin Landseer. London: S. Low. p. 79. 
  10. ^ The Art Journal. I. London: The Art Union. 1839. p. 173.