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History, Military, WWI, Allegory with Dogs, Etching, Persis Kirmse, 1917


Persis Kirmse (1884-1955) (artist and etcher)
[Dog Historical Allegory]
Philip Suval, New York: 1917
Signed in pencil lower left
Black and white etching on chine applique
15 x 22.25 inches, image
17.25 x 24.25 inches plate mark
26 x 32.75 inches, overall

A group of dogs on the banks of a body of water look at a lone white dog on an opposite bank. The print is almost certainly an allegory of World War I enacted by dogs, Kirmse’s favorite subjects. The United States avoided entering the war until the year this print was published; the lone dog is thought to represent America looking across the Atlantic, but not involved. On the other side is a dachshund isolated from the other dogs, likely representing Germany. The group of dogs with the dachshund are thus allegorical as representatives of England and European countries; they return the gaze of the American dog expectantly. In particular, a bulldog on the opposite bank is a typical allegorical representation of England. Indeed, a related etching titled This Realm – This England by the artist’s sister Marguerite Kirmse (1885-1954) portrays a bulldog representing England alone on a map image of Great Britain with a British flag. Moreover, allegorical animals — including dogs — superimposed on maps to represent various countries was a common theme of European and British satirical “serio-political” maps popularly issued as commentary for various conflicts and political situations including World War I.

Product description continues below.


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.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling, Few marginal tears restored verso, can be matted out. Right margin with light dampstain, can be matted out. This apparently is a signed proof before title; no examples of this print with a title are known.


“1930 New York Blue Book — Business Directory.” Brooklyn Information Page. (6 June 2006).

“A-Z Postcard Artists.” Wainsworld. 18 August 2001. (6 June 2006).

“Doyle New York Hosts 8th Annual Dogs in Art Auction on February 14, 2006.” Doyle New York. 14 February 2006. (6 June 2006).

“Exhibitions History of the Art Institute, 1910-1919.” Art Institute of Chicago. 4 August 2005. (6 June 2006).

Traxler, Don. “Re: Dogs On River Banks – Persis Kirmse.” E-mail correspondence. 13 December 2006.

Additional information


20th Century