The “Dog Days” have come. Most Canadians inhabit winter, which is not a mere season. As the people of Regina, Saskatchewan put it, “it’s not a season, it’s an occupation.” I spent a year in Regina and loved my stay in the middle of the Interior Plains of Canada.
So, dog days having begun, I am inserting pictures of dogs, drawn and sometimes coloured by British artist Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin (28 April 1870 – 6 January 1935). Aldin used pastels, watercolours and made etchings.
Vulpes Libris & Cecil Aldin
WordPress has an Aldin specialist in Vulpes Libris, the author of an article entitled The Life and Sleeping Partners of Cecil Aldin (1870 – 1935). Vulpes Libris is one of WordPress’ most talented writers. I therefore wish to salute this colleague. I call WordPress writers my “colleagues” and consider us a Publishing House. It makes me happy to be part of a team and I agree with Blaise Pascal that we humans seek happiness, including those who commit suicide.
Cecil Alvin was born in Slough, England. Cecil started drawing at a very young age. He studied art at the studio of Albert Moore and then the National Art Training School which later became The Royal College of Art. He was also trained by animal painter William Frank Calderon (1865, London – 21 April 1943). In 1891, The Graphic published some of his drawings. Aldin was 21. Aldin became a regular contributor to The Illustrated London News. However, as Vulpes Libris suggests, between the lines, at first, Alvin was not an invited contributor; he “inundated” The Illustrated London News. However, he was a genuine guest of genre painter Walter Dendy Sadler and stayed at Chiddingstone where he met other artists: Phil May, John Hassall, Lance Thackeray and, along with them, Dudley Hardy and Tom Browne, he founded the London Sketch Club.
Cecil Aldin’s First Series
During this period of his life, he made series of prints:
- Fallowfield Hunt,
- Bluemarket Races,
- Harefield Harriers, and
- Cottesbrook Hunt prints.
The birth of a son and daughter also led him to execute Nursery Pictures. This gentleman is the embodiment of versatility, but not altogether. Fox hunting was a main interest. Cecil Aldin was a Master of the Hunt. Fox hunting is a favourite English sport.
Aldin became very popular with the public and his fame spread when, in 1909, he exhibited in Paris, France. At that time in the history of art, room had been made for such talented artists as Cecil Aldin. We have already witnessed the last days of academicism.
Cecil Aldin as Illustrator
Alvin was a successful illustrator. He illustrated Rudyard Kipling‘s
- 1894 Second Jungle Book;
- the 1910 edition of Charles Dickens‘ The Pickwick Papers; and
- the 1932 Bunch Book (about Bunch, a Sealyham Terrier), by James Douglas.
Cecil Aldin on his Own, Mostly
Aldin had so creative a mind that he also published his own independent series. His 1920’s Old Inns and Old Manor Houses, originally published by Heinemann, are available online. Simply click on the titles. A Dog Day: Or the Angel in the House is also online.
When the First World War erupted, Aldin was put in charge of the Army Remount Service, not a pleasant task as he was sending horses to their almost certain death on battlefields. However, in this capacity, he met Lionel Edwards, Alfred Munnings and G. D. Armour.
Cecil Aldin was enormously saddened by the death of his son Dudley, at Vimy Ridge in 1917. The loss of a son is excruciating and the emotional consequences, often dire ones. Dudley’s death affected Aldin’s career, but he never gave up.
Cecil Aldin’s Books, Mostly
Mr Aldin’s most successful personal books are A Dog Day (narrated by Walter Emanuel), Sleeping Partners, and Puppy Dog’s Tales. But he also loved old inns, old manor houses and cathedrals. His rural scenes are irresistible. Here is a list of his personal books and links you could use to read their online editions. Although A Dog Day was narrated by Walter Emanuel, it is a personal book. Here is a list of Aldin’s best-known personal books. The titles of books written in bold characters are online publications:
- A Dog Day: Or the Angel in the House, 1902;
- Sleeping Partners;
- Puppy Dog’s Tales;
- Dogs of Character;
- Old Inns, 1921;
- Old Manor Houses, 1920.
Subject Matter: Cracker and Micky, Again Mostly
Aldin and his wife had two dogs Cecil simply loved: Cracker, his Bull Terrier, and an Irish Wolfhound called Micky. The two were forever featured in British illustrated periodicals and their story is linked with that of a couch, which is not surprising, except that Aldin was fortunate. It seems his dogs did not eat the couch.
The Move to Majorca
Cecil suffered from arthritis. So, at one point, he and his wife Rita moved to Majorca, but Cecil died during a trip to London. His wife Rita tells a most extraordinary story. I will quote my colleague Vulpes Libris:
“In January 1935 while Aldin was away on a visit to London, Cracker – back home in Majorca – started to howl in a most extraordinary and unprecedented fashion. It was several hours later that the news reached Rita Aldin that her husband had died from a heart attack in the London Clinic.”
Telepathy: It’s All Too True
This is a story I believe. Our animals become part of us and when we die, they too lose a part of their life. It is quite possible to be at once both alive and dead, in Quebec literature particularly. Besides, the above narrative can be told in reverse. There can be so close a bond between an animal and his “master” that telepathy is possible. I once had a little cat, Mouchette, who could let me know she was at the back door, waiting to get in. She was able to wake me up in the middle of the night. Mouchette died about two days after I arrived in Quebec. That was a bad omen.WordPress
- The Life and Sleeping Partners of Cecil Aldin (1870 – 1935) (vulpeslibris.wordpress.com)
- Coming up on Vulpes Libris (vulpeslibris.wordpress.com)
- Coming Up on Vulpes Libris (vulpeslibris.wordpress.com)