A group of dogs on one side of a riverbank look at a lone white dog on the opposite bank. It is said by some to be an allegory of World War I enacted by dogs, Kirmse’s favorite subjects. The U.S. avoided entering the war until the year this print was published; the lone dog is thought to represent the U.S., looking across the Atlantic, as representatives of the European countries return its gaze expectantly.
Persis Kirmse was a British artist born in Bournemouth, England, best known for her drawings, paintings and prints of animal subjects, especially dogs and cats. Her sister, Marguerite Kirmse (1885-1954), also an artist, emigrated to the U.S. and was especially well known for her etchings of dogs. Persis Kirmse stayed in Britain, and produced both fine art portraits and illustrations, usually in pastels, sometimes in oils. Some of these were reproduced on calendars and sets of postcards. She also made dog portraits for members of the European aristocracy. She authored and illustrated several children’s books, including a series of animals enacting scenes from Shakespearean plays, which included Shakespeare at the Kennels (1934), Shakespeare with the Pets (1935), Shakespeare at the Zoo (1936) and Shakespeare and the Birds (1938). She also illustrated animal-themed books by Frances Pitt and E.V. Lucas. Kirmse exhibited her work, including a show of pastels at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1916.
Philip Suval Inc. was an art gallery, operating from at least 1879 in Southampton, New York, with an additional two locations listed in Manhattan by 1930. They are still in business as a successor company, specializing in antique ceramics.
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Traxler, Don. “Re: Dogs On River Banks – Persis Kirmse.” E-mail correspondence. 13 December 2006.