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Bonhams & Brooks’ (15/10 per cent buyer’s premium) annual collaboration with the New York auctioneers Doyle’s (15/10 per cent buyer’s premium) for their February 13 Dogs in Art sale proved their most successful yet, netting $917,925 (£709,220) from 272 lots with just 14 per cent left unsold by lot and nine per cent by value.

The equivalent sale last year fetched $648,780 (£418,565), which is pretty much what the inaugural collaboration achieved in February 1999.

As in previous years, the vast majority of the material for this New York sale was sourced in the UK – Bonhams & Brooks’ Charles O’Brien put it at around 80 per cent – while the vast majority of buyers were private US collectors.

Doyle’s put plenty of effort into the marketing of this year’s sale by holding a special brunchtime charity view for members of the ASPCA (the US equivalent of the RSPCA) and by inviting the sector’s premiere specialist dealer, William Secord, author of Dog Painting 1840-1940, to give a lecture the night before the sale.

Marketing initiatives such as these, and the absence of competing auctions in New York, were thought to be the key factors behind 75 out of the 236 registered registered bidders being new clients.

Skilfully executed, straightforwardly decorative images of popular breeds tend to be the most eagerly sought-after commodity at these dog sales, with classic sporting breeds tending to be the most sought-after of all.

True to form, the untouched Thomas Blinks (1853-1910) canvas, Over the Brown, showing two setters on a grouse moor proved the star of the day, selling to an agent bidding on behalf of a US collector for $85,000 (£60,285) against an estimate of $30,000-50,000 and opposition from at least half a dozen telephones.

Blinks is a prestigious name – Secord describes him as “among the best known and most highly regarded of those who painted sporting dogs in the late 19th century” – and this signed 14 by 18in (35 x 45cm) canvas had been entered in untouched condition under glass by an English consignor, complete with a label on the verso dating the painting to 1909.

John Emms (1813-1912) is another much admired painter of sporting dogs and there was predictable demand from the London trade for Emms’ signed 18 by 14in (45 x 35cm) canvas, Archer, Ajax, Nell and Snooker, showing three foxhounds and a terrier in a kennel, described as being in “good original” condition. Estimated at $30,000-50,000, this sold to the London trade at $65,000 (£46,100), while a similarly estimated pair of slightly larger landscape-format Emms’ foxhound canvases, both signed and dated 1899, but in rather poorer condition, rated $60,000 (£42,555).

Not everyone is rich enough to be part of the international huntin’ and shootin’ crowd and there is also plenty of competition at these dog sales for more affordable paintings of the smaller breeds that are currently popular as pets.

The little documented early 20th century illustrator Lucy Dawson proved perfectly in tune with this sector of the market when 17 lots of drawings were offered direct from the artist’s family. These were a total sell-out with $6000 (£4255) given for a pastel of two snoozing Dandie Dinmont terriers (estimate $600-900) and $2800 (£1700) for a similar sized pastel of a Pekingese and a long-haired Jack Russell.

Exchange rate: £1 = $1.41