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The Mystery Of The Reinagle Wolfdog
(By Steve Tillotson, December 2012)

We start this article with a painting by Sir Edwin Landseer. We follow this with an engraving by Edwin Landseers brother - Charles Landseer.

"Vignette" by Edwin Landseer -Painting

Engraving by Charles Landseer -Painting

The purpose of showing the above, is to illustrate how each artist interprets and illustrates the same subject differently. This is important to note because often we have to rely upon early artistic depictions of our hounds as they pre-dated photography. In the case of the above, it appears that Charles Landseer produced a faithful reproduction in his engraving of his brothers original work.

Now, let us look at the Reinagle picture below of the Irish Wolfdog that some writers claim is the ancestor of the modern Irish Wolfhound.

Reinagle Irish Wolfdog

Several writers have expressed suspicions about Reinagle's painting and state the Reinagle never saw the subject in life, so it was not drawn from life, further, the title of the painting, and the text that accompanies the article in "The Sportsmans Cabinet" differs to the text oft-quoted by Wolfdog enthusiasts, see W D Drury comments below.

Consider the collage below of the Reinagle picture and the various intepretations and illustrations in circulation. There are noticeable differences between the two copies (left and right) and the original (center). Just imagine, if another artist years later chose to draw copy based on (say, for example) the right hand copy, ie a copy of a copy... one can understand how and why innacuracies can creep in.

Reinagle Irish Wolfdog

If critics of the Reinagle Wolfdog are correct, then where did Reinagle get the image in his mind from which to create his painting? Pure speculation from this author, maybe Reinagle had seen the Landseer painting above, and then painted his version of a Irish Wolfdog, using Landseer's as the model? I emphasize, that is purely my speculation, no evidence to support it.

Continuing this line of artistic speculation, consider the next picture

The Wolfdog on the left is by the non-famous artist Hogan O'Tillotson who "extracted" the hound from the Landseer painting and then placed it beside the Reinagle painting. Do you see similarities? Maybe the suggestion that Reinagle had seen Landseer's painting and used that as his model has some merit??

W D Drury (1903) on Reinagle - :Nor is there more unanimity among, or greater assistance from, the artists of the time. Bewick depicts a smooth dog, as did Lambart some four years later; but whereas the former shows a dog of Greyhound type, the latter's depiction more closely approximates to the Mastiff. Reinagle, a Royal Academician and a contemporary of Bewick, illustrates in the "Sportsman's Cabinet " a dog that is quite out of harmony with the description, which applies to a Great Dane-like animal. It must, however, be confessed that Reinagle's picture (Fig. 35) accords more with the popular creation of the Irish Wolfdog than anything that we know. It has been suggested that Reinagle's is a fanciful creation rather than a representative picture of the Wolfhound of the time—a time, be it noted, that accords with that in which Lord Altamount's dogs were supposed to be in existence."

(c)Steve Tillotson
Irish Wolfhound Times
December 2012

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