George Armfield, (1808 -1893)
George Armfield Smith (better known as George Armfield) was born, and lived most of his life in London. George Armfield is probably the most prolific dog painter of the nineteenth century. He painted dogs almost exclusively and produced innumerable charming scenes of terriers surrounding rabbit holes, spaniels putting up mallard, ratting terriers, and groups of sporting dogs in interiors.
Initially, George Armfield signed and exhibited his work as G A Smith, changing this when he exhibited the first of his paintings at the British Institution in 1839. Armfield entered two pictures entitled "Study of a Dog's Head" and "Terrier Chasing a Rabbit." The following year his work began to appear regularly in issues of Sporting Magazine. In 1840 Armfield began to exhibit at the Royal Academy. His work was also shown at Suffolk Street. He continued to exhibit regularly over the next twenty years.
Armfield earned substantial amounts of money for his painting, but spent it easily, gambling and giving it away to those in need. He was a hard worker, and produced a large number of canvases. Sadly, he began to go blind later in life and was unsuccessfully operated on for this ailment. Acutely depressed by his loss of sight, Armfield attempted suicide. When he recovered, he continued to paint, often aided by a powerful eyeglass, working up close on small canvases. He was reduced to such poverty that the Royal Academy awarded him a pension of £20 per annum. He died in 1893 before drawing the first installment.