Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, near Boston, Alexander Pope lived all his life in this area. His main interests were hunting and fishing which became the focus for most of his work. In the 1860s, he worked for his family's lumber business. He then studied carving, painting, perspective, and anatomy with William Rimmer, an important romantic-baroque sculptor, painter, and influential teacher of many Boston artists. Apart from this instruction he was largely self-taught. From 1879 to 1883, Pope created many well-received carvings of game, two of which were acquired by Tzar Alexander III of Russia.
In the early 1890s, Pope began painting animal portraits and later pursued a career as a portrait painter. The present work is one of his earliest works of this type. He was later considered one of the best Bostonian trompe l'oeil painters of the 19th Century. Pope is particularly well-known for these illusionist paintings and wood carvings of birds, rabbits, and firearms hanging on slate-colored doors.
Please see lot 83 for an example of his shooting paintings.