Meredith 'Bunny' Howland Pyne with his Dog, Hector
signed and dated 'J.J. SHANNON/1906' (lower left)
oil on canvas
66 x 3778 in. (167.6 x 95.8 cm.)
Percy Rivington Pyne II (1857-1929) and Maud Howland Pyne (1866-1952), New York, the parents of the sitter, commissioned from the artist.
By descent to the present owner.
B. D. Gallati, Portraits of Artistry and Artifice: The Career of Sir James Jebusa Shannon, 1862-1923, Ph.D. dissertation, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 1992, vol. 1, p. 275, illustrated, p. 498, no. 135, as Meredith, Son of Percy Pyne.
Portrait painters [scrapbook]: Laszlo, Shannon, 1932, in New York Public Library holdings, as Portrait of a Boy.
'Fine Arts,' Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, 15 March 1907, p. 4.
'Exhibitions Now On,' American Art News, New York, 16 March 1907, n.p., as Meredith, Son of Percy R. Pyne.
'Notes and Comment About Men and Women Prominent in Art,' Philadelphia Inquirer, 24 March 1907, p. 54, as Meredith, Son of Percy R. Pyne.
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Recent Portraits by Mr. J. J. Shannon, A.R.A., March 1907, no. 11, as Meredith - Son of Mr. Percy R. Pyne.
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Lot Essay

James Jebusa Shannon’s international reputation as a British portrait specialist was firmly established when he left London and crossed the Atlantic in late 1904, determined to capitalize on the thriving portrait market in his native United States. Over the course of this and two subsequent visits (in 1906 and 1907) he encountered no difficulty in securing commissions from prominent families in New York (where he was based), Boston, and Providence. Examples of the fruits of his stateside labors were highlighted in solo exhibitions at M. Knoedler & Co., New York, in 1905, 1906, and 1907, and in one at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1907.
This full-length portrait of Meredith 'Bunny' Howland Pyne (1898-1927) was likely painted in Shannon’s studio in the Bryant Park Studio Building at 80 West 40th Street shortly after the artist arrived in New York from London in November 1906. The boy, who had turned nine that October, was the youngest of the four children of the well-known financier and philanthropist Percy Rivington Pyne II (1857-1929) and his wife Maud Howland Pyne (1866-1952). In keeping with the enthusiasm for Old Master portraits then in vogue, Shannon’s depiction of Meredith Pyne functions as an updated version of Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s famed James Stuart, Duke of Lennox and Richmond (fig. 1, ca. 1633-1635), which had entered the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a gift from Henry G. Marquand in 1889. Indeed, the boy’s pose and the presence of his canine companion are direct quotations of the seventeenth-century precursor, an iconographic homage that would not have escaped astute viewers.
The portrait was displayed in Shannon’s 1907 exhibition at Knoedler’s under the title Meredith, Son of Mr. Percy R. Pyne. Although most of the portraits on view portrayed notable society women, one critic acknowledged, 'The portrait of a small boy divides attention with those of the women. It is that of Meredith Pyne and the manly looking little fellow is painted with his hand resting on the neck of a big dog. The pose and the color effect of this picture add to its attractiveness' (‘Fine Arts,’ Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, 15 March 1907, p. 4).
Another reviewer noted, 'Fine in tone, the little boy’s portrait is an excellent example, the harmony of browns and grays being in the artist’s best manner' ('Exhibitions Now On,' American Art News, New York, 16 March 1907). Shannon’s portrait of Meredith Pyne must have pleased the boy’s family; the artist painted a portrait of his mother, Maud Howland Pyne, in 1907 (private collection) and that of his sister, Mary (1894-1994), who sat to Shannon in London when she was nineteen (private collection).
Like so many young men of his generation, Meredith Pyne fought in World War I. From June to September 1916, the seventeen-year-old served in France as a driver for the American Ambulance Corps. Following that he enrolled at Princeton University, where he studied modern languages and attended the Princeton School of Military Aeronautics in 1917. According to one source, 'He distinguished himself in an aviation combat, in which he was wounded' (‘M. H. Pyne’s Will is Discovered,’ Bernardsville News, Bernardsville, NJ, 19 April 1928, p. 15). He graduated with high honors from Princeton in 1921 and pursued a career as a stockbroker until his death at the age of twenty-nine, reportedly from complications from injuries suffered in the war.
To honor his son’s memory, Percy Rivington Pyne II donated $25,000 to the American Museum of Natural History in 1929 to fund a portion of the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. The following year Maud Howland Pyne established the Meredith Howland Pyne Memorial Professorship of French Literature at Princeton University.
We are grateful to Dr. Barbara Dayer Gallati for confirming the authenticity of this work, and for contributing this catalogue entry.

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