South Scotland

Dandie Dinmont: The dog with a £2m art legacy

Callum by John Emms Image copyright NAtional Galleries of Scotland
Image caption Callum by John Emms is on permanent display in accordance with James Cowan Smith's wishes
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The story of the owner who leaves a sizeable sum of money to their beloved pet is a familiar one.

James Cowan Smith, however, wanted to do more than that for his Dandie Dinmont terrier Callum.

When the Scots engineer, who lived at Retford in Nottinghamshire, died a century ago this month he left a bequest to the National Galleries of Scotland.

But it came with a condition that a portrait of his dog be put on permanent display.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Image copyright NAtional Galleries of Scotland
Image caption The Road Through the Rocks, Port Vendres, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh was purchased with the help of the bequest
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That request has been met by the Edinburgh gallery and the bequest of more than £52,000 - reckoned to be worth more than £2m today - has funded the purchase of more than 40 paintings, drawings and prints for the national collection.

It includes works by JMW Turner, Francisco Goya, John Constable, Peter Paul Rubens, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, John Singer Sargent and Diego Velazquez.

The Dandie Dinmont terrier is one of the UK's rarest breeds although puppy numbers have risen recently.

Named after a Sir Walter Scott character, all modern day Dandies are descended from Old Ginger - born in the 19th Century at Selkirk in the Scottish Borders.

The Penny Wedding Image copyright NAtional Galleries of Scotland
Image caption The Penny Wedding by Alexander Carse was also funded by the money left by James Cowan Smith
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Paul Keevil is the UK co-ordinator for a discovery centre project dedicated to the breed.

He said that Callum's unusual artistic legacy continued to help to keep Dandie Dinmonts in the public eye.

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw Image copyright NAtional Galleries of Scotland
Image caption The bequest helped to buy Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargent
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"Visitors to the National Gallery of Scotland have always been fascinated by the story behind the James Cowan Smith bequest and why he attached such an unusual condition to it," he said.

"Callum is probably Edinburgh's second most famous terrier, behind Greyfriars Bobby.

"But whereas Bobby's story illustrates a dog's fidelity to his master, Callum's story shows a master's fidelity towards his dog.

"Indeed the very first thing that Cowan Smith mentions in his will, is his Dandie Dinmont terriers, ensuring that his surviving dog Fury was provided for and that the painting of his much loved Callum be on public display."

Sir Walter Scott Image copyright NAtional Galleries of Scotland
Image caption The Dandie Dinmont is named after a character created by Sir Walter Scott
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Mr Keevil said the breed continued to inspire similar affection.

"Cowan Smith clearly had a great passion for his Dandie Dinmonts and that passion continues with present-day owners showing similar devotion and dedication for one of Scotland's oldest breeds of dog," he said.

The terriers have gone through a period of "steady decline" but a concerted campaign appears to be turning that around.

Dandie Dinmont Image copyright Greg Macvean
Image caption Numbers of Dandie Dinmont puppies have increased in the past two years

"Things are beginning to look up for the breed - 2017 and 2018 was the first time in over 30 years that puppy numbers had gone up for two consecutive years," said Mr Keevil.

"The numbers are still modest at just 120 pups registered at The Kennel Club last year, but the regeneration of the breed would appear to have begun.

"And it is mainly thanks to the same passion showed by James Cowan Smith towards Callum 100 years ago that is now driving the breed forward towards a safe and sustainable future."

All images are copyrighted.

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