Joe Hope was head of Fine Art at the Bath Academy of Art (then located around the estate of Corsham Court near Bath) from 1968 to 1981. Both he and his wife Mary had trained at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and this picture was part of their privately owned collection.
Executed with a good dexterity and a keen eye for balance, the animals have been depicted with an alert demeanor. The Victorians adored dogs, which were by far the most popular domestic pet of the era, led by their much esteemed Queen Victoria, the English found comfort from daily toil by returning home to their favorite pet.
The English White Terrier was one of the first, if not the first, Terrier breed developed primarily for appearance and exhibition in the show ring rather than as a working dog. Some claim that the breed was exclusively bred from white Terriers while others believe that it was the result of a cross between Terriers and other dog breeds such as the Italian Greyhound and Whippet. The English White Terrier was highly influential in the development of a number of other dog breeds, including the Bull Terrier and Boston Terrier. Unfortunately the breed suffered from a number of health problems, especially deafness, and the dog died out in the early years of the 20th Century after having been around for less than 100 years. Meanwhile, the Manchester Terriers are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, of all distinct terrier breeds. Some believe that the breed is the result of crossing the old Black and Tan Terrier with whippets, while others believe that the Manchester Terrier and the Black and Tan Terrier are one and the same. This breed initially became popular as a killer of rats, and was for many decades considered the best ratter of all dog breeds.
The original condition, subject matter, execution, style and provenance of this picture makes it a very desirable one indeed.