January 4, 2008

Homing-pigeon portraits set free

On January 15 at Bonhams' "Gentlemen's Library Sale," portrait paintings of pigeons go on the block. The winsome paintings, by French painter J Baldaus and British artist Edward Henry Windred, depict champion homing pigeons from World War II. In The Guardian, Mark Brown reports that a spokeswoman for Bonhams said the paintings were part of a number of lots which paid homage to the animal heroes of the second world war. According to Brown, "the birds were indeed elite; they were trained at a secret location in Kent, and dropped behind enemy lines during the second world war, facing the very real threat of being shot indiscriminately. Some posed as German operatives. The auction lots are oil paintings belonging to the man who put together the crack squad of birds, which were based at four secret lofts known as the XX lofts. Jack Lovell's series of paintings of champion pigeons recall the role pigeons played during the war." Check out handsome Lot 813. In 1890, this pigeon won first place in a race at Bordeaux and came 29th in a race at Dax. Then, in 1891 the bird came 4th in a race at Tours and 40th in a race at Bordeaux. He/she also won the Prix d'Excellence a l'exposition internationale de Mons et a l'exposition du National Flying Club.

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