Arthur Wardle

Waiting for the guns

Oil on canvas: 18(h) x 24(w) in /

45.7(h) x 61(w) cm


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BP 110



1864 – London – 1949


Waiting for the Guns


Signed lower left: Arthur Wardle

Oil on canvas: 18 x 24 in / 45.7 x 61 cm

Frame size: 29 x 35 in / 73.7 x 88.9 cm



Private collection, UK



Three English setters and an Irish setter, on a grouse shoot, rest between drives with the day’s bag and the remains of lunch. Setters and the rolling, heathery upland where grouse thrive were a favourite subject of Wardle.


Setters, like spaniels (hence the name) derive from a type of Spanish hunting dog which is documented as early as 1335. Early sporting writers describe them as ‘setting’ or ‘crouching’ spaniels, as opposed to ‘finding’ or ‘springing’ spaniels, which flushed game without pointing it. Dr John Caius, in his Treatise on English Dogs (1576) describes the characteristics of the setter: ‘Another sort of Dogges be there, serviceable for fowling, making no noise either with foote or with tounge, whiles they followe the game….When he approacheth neere to the place where the birde is, [the dog] layes him downe, and with a marcke of his pawes, betrayeth the place of the byrdes last abode’[1]. As the setter crouched down, the hunter moved stealthily forward and threw a net over the birds.


In 1624 some working setters were sent to James I by Louis XIII, to be used in conjunction with falcons. The two most prominent English setter breeders of the early nineteenth century were Edward Laverack and RL Purcell Llewellin, from whose dogs most pedigree English setters descend. English setters were represented in the first recorded dog show in 1859 and at the first field trial in 1865. The Llewellin strain (a mix of Laverack blood with dogs from Mr Statter and Sir Vincent Corbet) excelled at field trials and most working setters descend from this line today.


1864 – London – 1949



Arthur Wardle is best known for his popular pictures of dogs, although he also painted a variety of other domestic and wild animals. He received no formal training, but learned his understanding of animals from visits to the zoo, where he made many ‘on the spot’ studies. From 1880 to 1938, he exhibited at the Royal Academy and the New Watercolour Society. Wardle held his first one-man exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1931. Wardle worked in oil, pastel and watercolour; he became a member of the Pastel Society in 1911, and a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in 1922.



[1] Quoted in Vero Shaw, The Illustrated Book of the Dog, London 1890, p.352.

SportingArthur Wardle