The c.1825 group Greyhound with Puppies by British-born sculptor Joseph Gott (1786-1860) was bought by The Barber Institute of Fine Arts for £55,000. The acquisition was made possible with a £5000 donation from Tomasso Brothers, as well as £12,500 from Art Fund and £12,500 from The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant. The remaining £25,000 was from the Henry Barber Trust.
Gott completed the sculpture while in Rome where he settled in 1822, living on a small pension from Thomas Lawrence, then president of the Royal Academy. While a student at the RA schools Gott had distinguished himself. In Italy he established a successful studio, making sculptures for aristocrats making their Grand Tours.
Dogs were a speciality of the gallery, probably prompted by the discovery of ancient Roman greyhound sculptures. Visiting gentry commissioned Gott to immortalise their dogs in terracotta and marble.
Another example from Gott’s studio sold at Christie’s last November for a hammer price of £13,000 (buyer's premium 25%).
Nicola Kalinsky, director of the Barber Institute, said that with the acquisition there was a chance to “continue developing our small but important group of sculpture”.
She added: “Up until now we’ve had no neoclassical works in the collection. Greyhound with Puppies fills that space and supports us in our aim to present a representative display of the western art tradition through outstanding individual examples.”
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is the principal art collection for the University of Birmingham.