Story behind painting of dog bequeathed to National Gallery goes viral

The Dandie Dinmont terrier breed is one of the rarest in Scotland. Picture: Neil Hanna/TSPL
The Dandie Dinmont terrier breed is one of the rarest in Scotland. Picture: Neil Hanna/TSPL
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A tweet which highlighted a unique bequest to Scotland’s National Gallery, which mandated that a painting of a family pet be hung there, has gone viral.

Matthew Seiji Burns, a writer, noticed the picture of a dog named ‘Callum’ in the gallery in Edinburgh, with the notes revealing that the pooch’s owner had left the gallery a substantial sum of money, if they agreed to hang the portrait.

The oil-on-canvas picture of Callum, a Dandie Dinmont terrier, belonged to civil engineer James Cowan Smith, who bequeathed £55,000 to the National Gallery of Scotland in 1919.

Equivalent to over £2m in today’s money, the Gallery noted that the generous gift had led to the foundation of an acquisitions trust fund, which helped fund a number of important purchases.

However, there was a catch - The National Gallery had to agree to display the picture of Callum forever.

Matthew wrote: “Also enjoyable: the way the plaque is written, it is interpretable as the dog himself making the donation and stipulating he be on permanent display.”

His tweet was liked nearly 8,000 times, and was one of the top posts on the ‘Today I Learned’ forum on Reddit, where users share interesting and unusual facts.

READ MORE: Plan to save Scotland’s rare dog breeds

One Twitter user wrote: “There’s rich, and then there’s ‘make my dog immortal’ rich.”

Another added: “I’d rather look at a portrait of Callum than any porridge-fed 18th century noble, to be honest. He’s a good doggo.”

Dandie Dinmonts are one of the rarest breeds of terrier in Britain, with less than 20 puppies registered in Scotland in 2015.