"Bull Broke Loose", Bull Baiting Oil on Canvas


  • £1,200.00
  • €1,418 Euro
  • $1,464 US Dollar

United Kingdom

DC Member since 2016
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"Bull Broke Loose", Bull Baiting Oil on Canvas

A late 18th century oil on canvas depicting a bull baiting scene

In England during the time of Queen Anne, bull-baiting was practised in London at Hockley-in-the-Hole, twice a week – and was also reasonably common in provincial towns. At Tutbury, a bull was tied to an iron stake so that it could move within a radius of about 30 feet. The object of the sport was for the dogs to immobilise the bull.
Before the event started, the bull's nose was blown full of pepper to enrage the animal before the baiting.

The bull was often placed in a hole in the ground. A variant of bull-baiting was "pinning the bull", where specially-trained dogs would set upon the bull one at a time, a successful attack resulting in the dog fastening his teeth strongly in the bull's snout. The extinct Old English Bulldog was bred especially for this sport.
Bull-baiting was not only practised as a form of recreation: there existed a "long-held belief" that baiting improved the flesh. By the early nineteenth century, the sport began to die out, both because the baiting caused a public nuisance and because of new concerns about animal cruelty.
A Bill for the suppression of the practice was introduced into the House of Commons in 1802, but was defeated by thirteen votes. It was not finally outlawed until parliament passed the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835, which forbade the keeping of any house, pit, or other place for baiting or fighting any bull, bear, dog, or other animal.

This particular image was taken from a engraving "bull-baiting in Southwark" dated on August 4th, 1666. And then was documented in The new book of the dog : a comprehensive natural history of British dogs and their foreign relatives, with chapters on law, breeding, kennel management, and veterinary treatment
by Robert Leighton 1911

The painting has been relined likely in the second quarter of the 19th century, and is in poor condition, flaking of paint in the bottom third some spots of water damage. But still has a charming appearance, a interesting and unusual subject matter.

Later mounted in a veneered burr maple frame 48/61cm



19th Century

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