Today, many are. Secord recently sold a John Sargent Noble painting of otterhounds to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, a work which now resides in the institution’s 19th-century collection.
In the process of redefining dog painting’s place in the art-historical hierarchy, Secord estimates that he’s become the world’s leading expert in the field. “I’m not bragging, that’s just the way it is, because nobody else wants to be,” he said. “I never set out to write the history of dog paintings. It was serendipitous, really.”
He never set out to collect dog paintings, either—“I can’t afford it,” he explained—but he has managed to acquire a handful of works over the years. One is a portrait of his last dog, a Dandie Dinmont terrier named Rocky, painted by contemporary dog artist Christine Merrill. Another is of an anonymous English mastiff, which he purchased at age 16 from an antique store in his native Canada. “It wasn’t because I was interested in dogs, I just bought it because it was nice,” Secord recalled. But, somehow, that teenaged whim managed to predict the rest of his career.