No one will ever be as happy to see you coming back home as your dog. Since they are always with us, they do deserve their place in art. And they certainly have it, not only as companions in their owner’s portraits but also on their own. As you can see below, dogs in art come in all shapes and sizes, but are always our best friends… well, almost always.
1. Cave Canem, Pompeii
Not a portrait exactly, but an early example of a “beware of dog” plaque, on a slightly larger scale too. Some things last for a long time (the plaques), some thankfully go away (the chain).
2. Agostino Carracci, Study of a Spaniel’s Head
Hmmm… this dog in art looks a bit more like a lion than a spaniel to me, but the look in its eyes cannot be mistaken — Someone is eating something and not sharing!
3. Gerrit Dou, Sleeping Dog
Is it really sleeping or just pretending so it doesn’t have to do much?
4. Giuseppe Castiglione, Tawny Yellow Leopard
By no means is this a leopard. Actually, Castiglione was commissioned by the Emperor Qianlong to paint a series of Ten Fine Hounds.
5. George Stubbs, White Poodle in a Punt
It does not seem very happy, does it? Poodles were water retrievers, so they should feel comfortable in the proximity of water, maybe it’s the missing duck.
6. Francisco Goya, The Dog
So dramatic and sad, probably one of the most moving depictions of a dog in art.
7. Édouard Manet, A King Charles Spaniel
I know you have my snacks! I’ll get you as soon as we’re done here! A truly noble one, art before snacks.
8. Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Three Puppies
It is difficult to resist the charm of a puppy, with three no one stands a chance.
9. Last but not least: Sir Edwin Landsee, A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society
More distinguished and dignified than many people, Bob was made a distinguished member of the Royal Humane Society. He saved 23 people from drowning over the course of 14 years! Good boy!