The Legacy of Callum and Fury

I am celebrating International Dog Day by going back to my first visit to the National Galleries Scotland, located in the heart of a vibrant Edinburgh. It was during the height of the Fringe Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, when the Royal Mile is filled with festivities, laughter, and excited tourists (I include me in that description). Inside the Gallery, there was a tranquility marked by an occasional hushed comment.

I happened to look up as I passed through an archway. That was the moment when I saw the painting of Callum by John Emms, 1895. What I had stumbled upon by “looking up” was a profound connection between a man and his dog.

Callum, John Emms (1843 – 1912)

Callum, was a Dandie Dinmont terrier owned by Mr. James Cowan Smith. The painting was a bequest of James Cowan Smith in 1919. According to the Gallery notation:

“Mr James Cowan Smith bequeathed £55,000 to the National Gallery of Scotland in 1919. This enormous amount formed an important trust fund for acquisitions. His bequest had two conditions: the first that the Gallery provided for his dog Fury, who survived him; the second that Emms’ picture of his previous dog Callum should always be hung in the Gallery. Both conditions were fulfilled, and although Fury is long since dead, Callum still hangs in the Gallery in memory of his owner.”

The legacy of £55,000 provided funds to purchase invaluable art work, including Constable’s Dedham Vale, and Sargent’s Lady Agnew and Goya’s El Medico.

I wonder if there is a painting of Fury. Always a mystery to solve…

Happy International Dog day. Let’s celebrate!

Callum, John Emms (1843 – 1912)

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

19 thoughts on “The Legacy of Callum and Fury

  1. This is such a delightful article. I appreciate that you included the painting of the dog. I find it interesting that the painting includes the trophy, I suppose it was his food. Or maybe it was just a small animal that he spent time chasing. Good that we humans are celebrating our “Doggie” Friends internationally!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so glad you liked this story behind the painting. Every art piece has a narrative, but sometimes it gets lost in the folds of history. Following the trail of the story is a treasure hunt. You never know where the journey will lead, which is the best part of all!

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  2. Happy International Dog Day! I love the stories you find for us in paintings. Callum is beautiful but what moves me to tears is that a dog lover and generous man made it possible for me to enjoy Lady Agnew. I adore Sargent’s painting of Lady Agnew.

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  3. Hats off to the benevolence of art lovers and visionaries such as James Cowan Smith. The Galleries are undergoing some extensive refurbishment at the moment – you will be astonished at the changes when you next visit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Liz! I can hardly wait to see the changes and am glad that I took photos so that I can see the before and after. Was thinking of you yesterday and your discussion about aging!!! Life is so amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that International Dog Day is everyday for most of us. There is a profound sense of joy when we are greeted at the door with unconditional love. Art galleries hold so many stories. This story reminded me of the stained glass window at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver. A legacy was given for a remarkable strained glass window with the provision that the benefactor’s dogs would be somewhere in the window. The artist was found the optimum place to capture the cute face. I must get those photos out!

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    1. There are so many, many stories hidden in paintings. It really is a treasure hunt! I am grateful for those individuals that document stories and keep diaries. To me, this is what we, as bloggers are doing. Would be interesting to know what future generations think about us. Let’s keep writing and telling our stories. Hugs!!

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    1. I did see the dog cemetery – it was such a wonderful surprise. And somehow history became more real to me – names took the form of human beings rather than being a static fact.


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