Formerly attributed to Frans Snyders, this humorous and lifelike picture of dogs playing is now recognized as a work by his gifted brother-in-law, Paul de Vos. Robels was the first to tentatively propose an attribution to de Vos, on comparison with a painting of a similar breed of dog sold at Sotheby’s, New York, 17 January 1985, lot 124 (loc. cit.), and this attribution has since been confirmed by Fred Meijer, of the RKD, The Hague, after first-hand inspection of the painting (December 2014).
Following Snyders’ highly successful example, de Vos specialized in paintings of animals, hunting scenes and still-lifes. His compositions and individual motifs often closely resemble the work of Snyders, and a drawing by Snyders showing a hound pinning down a hare in a very similar attitude to this image (but in reverse) was sold at Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg, 7 June 2000, lot 99 (RKD no. 42974). De Vos collaborated with many of the great Flemish artists of his day, including Rubens (who was godfather to one of his children), van Dyck (Rest on the Flight into Egypt; Hermitage, St. Petersburg) and Erasmus Quellinus I (Aeolus and Vulcan; both Prado, Madrid). For the backgrounds in his own paintings, de Vos often relied on the assistance of the landscape painter Jan Wildens. Works by de Vos were sought after in royal and aristocratic circles: he contributed a number of paintings to the decoration of King Philip IV's hunting lodge, the Torre de la Parada, as well as to the palaces of Alcázar and Buen Retiro in Madrid, and was commissioned by Charles-Philip, Duc d’Arenberg, then resident at Madrid, to paint at least thirty-six paintings of birds, hunts and fables between 1633 and 1640.