Christine Merrill with her pets Louie and Liebchen
Art appreciation is a pleasurable experience, especially if you are looking at beautiful oil paintings of dogs - their expressions perfectly captured by the artist - posing just for you - on canvas. Perfectly groomed canines stand in gardens, in front of stately homes or in the intimacy of elegant rooms. Each mise- en-scène sets the right mood for every portrait.
Such are the paintings of the talented Christine Merrill. When I first saw one of her paintings at Canine Styles (see article under "Trends") I was fascinated and had to find out more about her. I contacted Christine at her home in Maryland and discovered a very cheerful woman, who loves what she does and is happy to share her passion with others.
Born in Baltimore, Christine expressed an interest in painting at a very young age. Her mother handed her a pencil at the age of two and later painted her first dog portrait at age five. She began professionally painting in 1975 and since 1990, is represented by the William Secord Gallery in New York City. It is there that she had eight successful one-person exhibitions. It was through the gallery that in the summer of 1996 she exhibited at The Isetan Gallery of Fine Arts in Tokyo. Christine's work hangs in many private and public collections, including the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog. Her work is widely collected by dog lovers, including Barbara Taylor Bradford, the late Geoffrey Beene, the late Malcolm Forbes, and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.
Shanti, Biscuit, Tobi and Genesis, Dachsunds
The process of the commissioned work was a mystery to me. Christine goes to visit clients to observe the dog she is commissioned to paint, in his or her home. If this cannot be arranged, she can work with a photograph. But what does she look for when face to face with a new furry client? There is the feeling of attachment and devotion in every cherished pet, this is what Christine strives to capture... Some of her subjects don't always do what they are told though, as was the case with the late Geoffrey Beene's Dachsunds "Maximillian" and "Sir Lancelot". While at his Oyster Bay estate, the 2 Mischievous dogs ran around like rockets for a half an hour before finally holding still for photographs. They were so tuckered out from all the excitement they had to be painted lying down or sitting! Christine is a proud owner of 2 dogs herself and has the patience it requires to get the most out of pets. She does not only paint dogs but also paints horses, cats, birds and bunnies as well. As for the pose, regal backgrounds and size of the canvas; these are decided in accordance to the pet owner's tastes and wishes.
Christine listed Sir Thomas Lawrence (13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830), a leading English portrait painter, whose work she greatly admires.
In addition to her fine paintings, Christine Merrill has illustrated three children’s books by the acclaimed author and Newberry prize-winner, Jean George.
If you happen to be in New York City, her work is on display at :The William Secord Gallery,
29 West 15th Street 4th floor, Between Fifth and Six Avenues
New York, NY 10011
Tel. 212-249-0075 (By appointment)