This work was painted for Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, the subject is her favorite German Shepherd and macaw. It is thought that the Chinese vase that is featured belonged to the J.P. Morgan Collection. Such works were often used as decorative wall panels and Maud Earl's own studio at 590 Fifth Avenue contained examples of her panels depicting parrots, cockatoos and chinese designs in keeping with the vogue for such decorative design schemes during the late 1910s and 1920s in New York.
Perhaps more than any other artist born in the 19th Century, Maud Earl was the pre-eminent painter of pure-bred dogs. She was born into an artistic family, the only daughter by the artist George Earl's first wife, Alice Beaumont Rawlins. Maud was taught by her father and at the Royal Female School of Art, where she quickly developed her natural talent for capturing the true character of her canine subjects. She exhibited regularly in England and Europe, and was a prolific and much sought after artist who painted many of the important dogs of the day, including those belonging to the Royal Family and important dog fanciers. Her works were immensely popular with the public for whom images of the dog were an important reflection of their affection for the animal. By 1916, she had received international recognition with several solo exhibitions, and her work was widely reproduced both in books and print form. Her work may be loosely divided into four styles, the naturalistic, richly painted portraits of dogs from 1880 to 1900; a highly finished but looser, more sketchy style from 1900 to 1915; what she referred to as her oriental style from about 1916 to the 1920s after she emigrated to the United States, and her late rather stylized portraits of dogs during the 1930s in America. It was during her early years in America when she painted her little-known but elegant paintings of birds, which she considered some of her best works. The present work is an exquisite example of her orientalist style and shows her talent for presenting characterful portraits of dogs and birds combined with a sophisticated aesthetic design.