Lucy Dawson, Dog Artist
ONE OF MY favourite dog illustrators is the largely underrated 20th century canine artist, Lucy Dawson (aka Mac).
Since becoming interested in her work a few years ago I have noticed her band of collectors grow, however many of her book and postcard illustrations can still be bought for a reasonable cost.
Lucy Dawson was British born and noted for her paintings and etchings of dogs of all breeds. Her home was in Bristol until about 1930, when, after the death of her husband, she moved to London. The war years saw her move to Hertfordshire where she remained until she died, just short of her 80th birthday.
Dawson worked in pencil, pen, ink and oil and was best known for her work in pastels. These pastel portraits are simple and completely focussed on the dog. An absence of background clutter ensures the animal becomes the focal point of her work.
She enjoyed regular commissions and one of her most famous requests was that by the Royal family who took her to the Royal Lodge at Windsor to paint their favourite corgi, Dookie. This painting was later reproduced as a family Christmas card for the Windsors.
Under the pseudonym Mac, Lucy Dawson is best known for her dog postcards published by Valentines & Sons as the Tailwagger series. Cat cards were also produced and are scarce.
Cairn, Scottish, Fox and Sealyham terriers feature heavily in the postcards and are representative of the popular dogs at a time when Dawson was most prolific.
Wills’ Cigarettes also commissioned a set of 40 illustrations by Lucy Dawson to be produced as the Puppies series. This series was purportedly published in the 1940s but the restrictions on paper caused by the war meant a very limited number appeared.
They are scarce to the point of being practically impossible to prove they were actually distributed, with some claims that they have only been viewed as a proof sheet. A limited edition reprint of the Wills Cards was issued in 1990 and even these reproductions are becoming highly sought collectibles.
Among the most endearing things about Lucy Dawson’s Wills cards are the captions on the rear of the cards written by Dawson herself. These show how she has a rapport with each dog who models for her, and it gives us an instant connection with the subject.
Her description of Judy, a spaniel who appeared at number 25 in the set of 40 Wills Cigarette Cards clearly illustrates this point: Judy spent the day with me alone at my studio, and we became great friends even in so short a time. I hope to renew her friendship very soon, as she was a charming model and a perfect lady – very pretty with her silky gold and white coat. She didn’t mind being left with me – I think she approved of the visit.
Lucy Dawson wrote and illustrated a number of books which are detailed in a separate article.
Many original Lucy Dawson dog illustrations and postcards mentioned in this article come up for sale here.
No related posts.