Nothin’ But a Hound Dog

Terzameron Day 4
March 24, 2020

Tim Martin



We make our share of exciting discoveries, but credit for this one goes to the redoubtable Cantabrigian scholar John Bourdon-Smith, of the eponymous silver shop in St. James’s.


I saw the silver greyhound (above) in an auction, and thought: what a pretty dog! So beautifully modeled, so graceful, in such perfect condition…I should buy it! After the hammer fell I got a call from my friend Edward (Bourdon-Smith), John’s son. He wanted to know, had I bought the greyhound, and, as the answer was yes, would I like to sell him a half-share, for they too had been interested but hadn’t wanted to pay so much. I agreed, grudgingly, and sent them a bill for half. But what I’d thought was a costly but prudent greasing of the wheel of Commerce turned out to be a remunerative greasing of the wheel of Fortune, for a few months later I got a call from these same penurious, cadging layabouts with some very good news.


John had been browsing a reference book when he saw—on the base of a centerpiece in the Royal Collection, a greyhound.


“Edward,” said he to his son (bossily, I’m sure), “I think that’s our greyhound.”

“Well father,” the almost-ever-tolerant Edward replied, with only a hint of an eye-roll in his tone, “that is certainly A greyhound.”

“No.” came the confident rejoinder, “That’s our greyhound.”


A hawk eye is one characteristic of a great dealer, and John had somehow recognized the dog in a grainy black and white photo four inches high, a photo, I must point out, of an object two feet tall, and the dog isn’t even in the same pose. Several xerox enlargements and a visit to the Royal Collection later, the verdict was in: the greyhound in our sculpture was the very same greyhound as on the centerpiece—wens and all. She had a name, Eos, and she was Prince Albert’s beloved pet, more than once depicted by Garrard’s, and frequently painted by Landseer. Further research in the Garrard Ledgers at the V&A confirmed that this little sculpture was Victoria’s twenty-first birthday present to Albert, “with which he was,” in the words of her diary, “much pleased.” They had been married six months, and I think the thoughtfulness of the gift shows in some small measure the love and devotion she felt for him, in life and beyond.


I recently wondered why I cry watching movies on airplanes. I looked it up on the internet—I’m not the only one!—and one theory is that there is some sense of anxiety, heightened stakes, impending doom, that triggers heightened emotions. Like Elvis Costello, I don’t want to get too sentimental, but I am enjoying contemplating this object now that we are all confined to our families and homes: a loving couple, a beloved pet…just to heap it on thick, here’s Victoria’s next birthday present to Albert: Landseer’s picture of Eos with their first child, the little Princess Victoria at ten months.


Tomorrow’s email may come from Jim or Ben—the other duo of the terza in the series name. I’ll be home with my wife, my kids, and my dog.

Add a comment