Arthur Wardle was a British animal artist renowned for his canine portraits. Born in 1864, in London, England, Arthur Wardle did not receive any formal artistic training, but rather studied under other local artists. He exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy at the age of 16 after completing a study on cattle on the Thames River. This began his interest in animal painting and sharpened his skills by frequent visits to the London Zoo. In 1880, he lived in Oakley Square, Camden, in North London. In the 1900s, he created portraits of domestic animals, wildlife, and zoo animals though began to incorporate some biblical and mythological elements into his scenes to attract greater attention. He varied between oil, watercolor and pastels, preferring the latter for the quicker subjects like lions and wildlife. Wardle was skilled in retaining the precise detail of the animal’s markings and fur as well as mastering the art of conveying movement.
This wildlife study began his career but with many commissions for canine paintings, his primary subject focused on dogs. He illustrated canine portraits for B. Rawdon Lee’s publications as well as commissioned 250 sets of portraits for various tobacco companies’ cigarette cards. He was also hired to produce portraits for stationary, postcards, calendars and playing cards, to name a few. Prior to his death in London in 1949, Arthur Wardle held memberships in the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in 1922 as well as the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists, among others. Wardle excelled at his lifelike portrayal of animals, domestic and wild alike, producing paintings that are continually sought after today.