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Captain Grahams Cardboard Model Irish Wolfhound
(By Steve Tillotson, Feb 2013)

Captain Grahams Cardboard Model Irish Wolfhound - Captain Grahams Model Wolf-Dog

In his book, page 85, Father Hogan, in quoting Captain Graham, writes the following "As the deerhound of the present day is to the ordinary greyhound, so is the giant Irish wolfdog to the deerhound. I have had painted under my close superintendence and guidance, a portrait of an Irish wolfdog, of 35 inches high, life-size, of a grey colour; and it presents to the vision a most striking and remarkable animal of a very majestic and beautiful appearance, far, far beyond any dog the writer has ever seen in grandeur of looks. I would express my astonishment that such a breed should have found so few supporters."

That's a pretty impressive giant hound! When I first saw the photo I thought Wow!, if that was a genuine specimen of an Irish Wolfdog then I can understand where Captain Graham is coming from.

Before continuing to read this article, I would ask readers to study the photograph above again and re-read Hogans words (a supposed quote of Grahams actual words), and consider the "presentation" by Hogan and Graham of this photograph. I ask readers - "Is it not reasonable to conclude at a first glance that Graham is portrayed standing in front of a real Irish Wolf-Dog, or Wolfhound, and as is implied by Hogan's (Graham's) accompanying narrative?

Whilst my first reaction to the photograh was Wow! I also immediately got that feeling that "something is wrong with that dog, doesn't look natural". I temporarily put that feeling aside and went on and did some other research. It was only recently when I uncovered further information about the above photograph that the truth came to light.

In the Irish Wolfhound Club Of Ireland's reprint of Hogan and Grahams books which the Club published as a dual volume edition in 1939, Phyllis Gardner provides some additional information at the end of each book, and corrects some errors in the books. In her "Notes to Father Hogan" at the end of the Hogan book on page 160 Ms Gardner writes - "Note cc para 157. "Portrait" This was painted by a local artist from a cardboard life-size model made by Graham. Both model and portrait were in the possession of Major Sherwell, but I am informed they were scrapped after his death. A photograph, however, exists, showing Graham standing beside the model, and having written on the back of it: "Type of the old Irish Wolfhound. Exact height of model, 35 ins. to shoulder blade. Probable girth 42 ins. or more. Probable weight, 140 lbs. G.A.Graham". See Graham p.234.

Here is the exact quote from p 234 of Grahams book - "This writer has just had painted, under his close superintendence and guidance, a portrait of the Irish Wolfhound of 35 inches, life-size, of a grey colour, and it presents to the vision a most striking and remarkable animal of a very majestic and beautiful appearance, far far beyond any dog the writer has ever seen in grandeur of looks".

I think it fortuitous for Graham that Mr G.W. Hickman was seemingly unaware of Graham's cardboard life-size model and the above photograph. Mr Hickman's counter views on the Irish Wolfdog/Deerhound relationship were credible and persuasive and had Mr Hickman gotten hold of this little snippet, he would undoubtedly have assailed Grahams creditability! Mr Hickman wrote in 1887 - "There is not a particle of direct evidence to identify the Irish Wolfhound with the Deerhound". This issue, hotly debated between Graham and Hickman, revolves around the origins of the breeds, so any pictorial evidence would have been very helpful to whichever side in the debate could produce such evidence.

In Graham's book (Page 233) and immediately prior to stating on page 234 that he had just had a painting done which depicts a coated giant Irish Wolfhound, Graham writes the following - "I think the Irish Wolfhound is the Scotch Deerhound with some blood of our modern large German Dogge [Boarhound?] (parentheses are Grahams) to give him the necessary strength". Continuing onto the next page Graham writes - "According to old paintings, rough coats (for the boar dogs) (parentheses are Grahams) were preferred, because they were less liable to injury than the smooth". Graham then proceeds to write about the painting he had commisioned, as per the quote from page 234 above.

Reverse engineering the structure of Grahams writing reveals a not very subtle strategy;
  • Restate the Deerhound theory (for which no evidence exists)
  • Follow that with some legacy reference (the accuracy of which is unsubstantiated)
  • Follow that with a reference to a "portrait" of a coated Irish Wolfhound (the "evidence")

This raises a particular question, - did Graham have the photograph taken with his cardboard dog (his "personal depiction" of an "imaginary" giant "coated" Irish Wolfhound) to provide "evidence" in support of his Deerhound theory (which was his justification for using the Deerhound to revive the old Irish Wolfdog, or more accurately for his "creation" of its "successor" - The Irish Wolfhound)?

    Other observations/questions arise from the above, and include -

  • Hogan doesn't quote Graham accurately. Hogan uses the word "Wolfdog" whereas Graham wrote the words "Irish Wolfhound".
  • Was Hogan aware that Grahams writing on the portrait referenced a cardboard dog, and if so, why didn't he mention that?
  • Graham, made no mention of the cardboard dog.
  • The photograph above, being ancient and of old b/w photographic technology and quality doesn't show detail clearly, so its not immediatley obvious that the dog was a cardboard model. Was the intent to present this photograph as a real Irish Wolfhound?
  • Ms Gardner informs us "Both model and portrait were in the possession of Major Sherwell, but I am informed they were scrapped after his death." So, in the absence of any other references to the cardboard dog (none other as yet known to this author), and but for Ms Gardners information, we may never have known about the cardboard dog and of its appearenace in the above photograph
  • Does the actions of Graham in creating and posing with a cardboard Irish Wolfhound suggest that he had no other depictions of the supposed coated Irish Wolfdogs/Wolfhounds that matched his description?

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