14 Of The Most Famous Dog Paintings Throughout History
This entry was posted on April 28, 2023.
Dogs are loyal and loving beings, making them one of the most valued pets compared to many domesticated animals. They serve different purposes, from being guard dogs to simple household dogs. Dogs even get trained to serve higher purposes as police dogs or emergency rescuers.
Whatever their purpose may be, dogs are loved all over the world by animal lovers. The love and affection that we share for dogs is not something that began in these recent times. Dogs represented love and fidelity from ancient times, evident from the many paintings artists dedicated to these lovely creatures. Dogs acted as symbols of devotional relationships in most of these paintings throughout history.
In the contemporary world too, we as dog lovers pay homage to our beloved pets and canine friends by dedicating portraits, toys, and even sculptures that look like them to celebrate their life. There are even applications now that can convert photos to portraits or even a cute bitmoji making it easier to pay homage to your pets in creative ways.
Top 14 Dog Paintings Throughout History
Above all these methods, the most satisfying way of celebrating your dog’s life must be painting your dog's portrait on your own. This is what a lot of artists did back in the day. Many artists, including Pablo Picasso, dedicated their paintings to their pet dogs and furry friends which went on to become important artworks in the visual history of our world.
Many other artists, especially those from the Renaissance, included dogs as subjects in their artworks to symbolize devotional relationships and as symbols of unconditional love, loyalty, and fidelity. In the list below of the top 14 dog paintings throughout history, we will explore some beautiful paintings that left a mark in visual history.
1. Cave Canem Mosaic
The most ancient dog portrait is not a painting but a carving called the Cave Canem Mosaic. The mosaic got discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, Rome, in the House of The Tragic Poet. It is believed that the mosaic belonged to the first century BC .
The dog mosaic depicted a fierce-looking canine with the words ‘Cave Canem’ carved into it. This word translates to ‘Beware of The Dog’ in English. So, art historians believe that they carved the mosaic to warn people of the presence of canines in their households, similar to the ‘Beware of Dog’ signs we hand now.
The artist of the famous ‘Cave Canem’ is, however, unknown. But the mosaic interestingly translates the relationships canines of the ancient era had with the people of the time. People of the ancient city of Rome indeed considered canines not only as just hunting dogs but also as protectors or guardians who could protect them from any threats.
2. ‘Friend In Need’ by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
The work ‘Friend In Need,’ commonly referred to as ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ is among the sixteen oil paintings in the ‘Poker Game’ series by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. They are probably among the most prominent and famous artworks with dogs as the main subject.
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‘Friend in Need,’ released in 1903, is the most well-known work of the series and is undoubtedly the most recognizable piece in existence when it comes to dog art. So, when we discuss the most famous dog paintings of all time, this painting cannot go without getting mentioned. While the name ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ seems more apt for the painting at one glance, many tend to miss its main intended focus.
In the foreground, we can see how a dog is passing one of his cards to his neighboring dog in an attempt to cheat and guarantee a win for both of them. Such an act within the already humorous-looking painting makes it even more hilarious!
3. ‘The Dog’ by Francisco Goya
Francisco Goya, as you may already know, is one of the most famous artists of Spanish origin to live. Among the many paintings he has completed, one of the most prominent is ‘The Dog,’ completed in 1823. It currently hangs at the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. It is also one of the most important and influential dog artwork of all time.
As you may notice, the composition of the painting is quite simple, with a two-part division of upper and lower portions. The dog in the lower section of the painting only has its head visible to us, with the rest of the body covered in sand or something similar. We can see it longingly looking at the sky with a unique pale reddish hue.
As mentioned, the painting has an elemental composition, but what makes it iconic is how it depicts the feeling of isolation through the dog’s posture. Looking at the artwork, we can feel the isolation, loneliness, and pain the dog is feeling. Many critics have come up with several different arguments for what it actually means, but we will never know what Goya truly intended by the painting.
4. ‘Portrait of Maurice’ by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol is an artist of the 20th century famous for his unmistakable pop art style. He followed the same art style for one of his most famous works, the ‘Portrait of Maurice’, which he completed in 1976.
Warhol usually did paintings of the rich and celebrities, but he also accepted commissions from people. The painting ‘Portrait of Maurice’, which became one of his most iconic works was one such commission. Maurice was the beloved Dachshund that belonged to Gabrielle Keiller, who commissioned Andy Warhol to do the portrait.
The painting only came to light after Keiller donated all of her art collection to the National Gallery Scotland, making ‘Portrait of Maurice’ the first work of Andy Warhol to enter galleries.
5. ‘A Jack In Office’ by Sir Edwin Landseer
‘A Jack In Office’ by Edwin Landeer is an artwork that does not go without being mentioned when discussing dog art. The painting was completed in 1833 and is among the works that he did in his early years.
As its title, ‘A Jack In Office,’ suggests, the painting is a clever work with a lot of symbolism, creating its own story. ‘A Jack In Office’, as you may already know, was used as slang terminology to indicate an ineffective government.
A Jack Russell Terrier is sitting on the table, looking all plump and healthy in the painting. The dogs around him are starving; some even look up to him, hoping to get help to end their state. The art piece powerfully depicts the unjust treatment many individuals and societies receive from their governments and authorities.
6. ‘Lady Hamilton (as Nature)’ by George Romney
George Romney, the famous British portrait artist that lived during the 18th century, is known for his outstanding work, ‘Lady Hamilton (as Nature).’ Romney was famous for being capable of painting realistic portraits, and for the same reason, he often got commissions to do portraits of celebrities and royal members of the time.
One of his most famous works, ‘Lady Hamilton (As Nature)’ was completed in the year 1782 and is praised by art historians even today for the great use of light against a dark background. Such a technique brings out the features of the lady in the painting very well.
The highlight of the painting is, undoubtedly, the puppy that the lady is holding. We can see how the puppy is looking at us, the viewers of the painting. The intrigued look on the face of the dog does not go unnoticed.
7. ‘A Couple of Foxhounds’ by George Stubbs
‘A Couple of Foxhounds’, a dog artwork, is one of the most famous art pieces by George Stubbs, completed in 1792. The belief is that Reverend Thomas Vyner commissioned Stubbs to do the painting as he took an interest in hounds and was an expert in foxhound breeding.
Fox hunting was a popular activity back in that day, and hounds usually accompanied men when they went out hunting during the mid-1700s. These hunters took a lot of pride in their hounds as they used to be the symbol of nobility, and the reverend was one such person who loved his foxhounds.
The two hounds in the painting seem to be conversing with each other and seem to be a bit diligent about possibly some other dogs that they sense to be nearby. Art enthusiasts believe Stubbs was attempting to depict a feeling of isolation through the posture of the dogs. The elevated head of the dog and the position of its ear makes it clear to the viewers that the dog is paying attention to something that is not visible to us.
8. ‘Head of A Dog’ by Edward Munch
Edward Munch is a name that does not go without getting mentioned when discussing the prominent artists of the 20th century. His work, ‘The Scream,’ is one of the most famous paintings of this era. The works of the artist have their distinct properties and border on Surrealism.
One of the most famous works of Edward Munch is his 1930 painting, ‘Head of A Dog,’ which features the cartoonish yet stern-looking face of a dog.
He completed this painting when he was going through a difficult time after the death of his mother and sister. To help cope with grief, Munch took comfort in dogs who gave him company, and the belief is that this painting features the head of a dog that was beloved to him.
9. ‘King Charles Spaniel’ by Edouard Manet
Edouard Manet was one of the first among his peers to do paintings on scenes and characters from his own life than on religious characters. One such famous painting of his is ‘King Charles Spaniel’, which was completed in 1866 and became one of the most renowned dog paintings of all time.
The painting is an exquisite dog portrait of a little dog called King Charles Spaniel, sitting on a luxurious-looking crimson pillow as if he were a royal member. Manet beautifully depicts the sweeping curls of the dog with a lustrous look to its coat, giving the viewer an indication that the dog is well taken care of.
10. ‘Good Friends’ by Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell is an artist who was especially famous in America for his depiction of the everyday life lived by the Americans through his painting. His paintings elicit nostalgia in many, especially Americans, who use them to remember the era that has gone by.
‘Good Friends’ by Norman Rockwell, which he completed in 1927, is such a work that depicts the pleasure someone can feel in owning a dog. It is a beautiful painting in which the big dog, sitting beside its human, proudly watches over its puppies that cluster around the bowl the boy is holding. Rockwell successfully portrayed the joy someone can get by spending time with dogs through this painting of his.
11. ‘Julie Manet and her Greyhound Laertes’ by Berthe Morisot
Berthe Morisot was among the most prominent female artists of the time. She was an impressionist painter whose works mostly depicted the diverse social scenes or portraits of individuals. Morisot followed a unique style and became famous as an impressionist painter with her aggressive use of colors and brushstrokes. Her work, ‘Julie Manet and her Greyhound Laertes’, is one such painting that features a woman and her pet dog, which she released in 1893.
12. ‘Little Girl in a Blue Armchair’ by Mary Cassatt
The painting ‘Little Girl in a Blue Chair’ is iconic among the most famous dog paintings. Cassatt completed the painting in the year 1878. It is famous for its compassionate presentation and also for the technical talents using which Mary Cassatt created it.
Anyone who has felt that the restrictions that were once imposed on them as a child were irrational can resonate with the child in the painting. You will sympathize with the young girl who seems to have launched herself onto the blue armchair in a moment of frustration adjacent to the one where a small dog is lying.
13. ‘Diogenes’ by Jean-Leon Gerome
Another famous dog painting that came out in the 19th century is ‘Diogenes’ by Jean-Leon Gerome. Even though it only came out in the late 19th century in the year 1860, it has characteristics of paintings that belonged to the neo-classical period.
The painting features the Greek philosopher Diogenes and a group of dogs who accompanies him, intently watching him. Art enthusiasts believe that the dogs in the painting represent the people who took a particular interest in his works and ideologies.
14. ‘Arearea’ by Paul Gaugin
‘Areara’ is one of the other paintings that Paul Gaugin completed after returning from his trip to Tahiti. Gaugin used daily Tahiti surroundings in this painting which was completed in 1892, a year after he returned from the place.
Gaugin in ‘Areara’ carefully blended reality and fantasy to create his own world without losing the credibility of how life is in Tahiti. In the foreground of the painting, you can also see a large red dog standing as if sniffing the ground near the two ladies who are the centerpiece of the painting.
The painting failed to get much attention from the public and art enthusiasts of the time. Many were also disappointed at how Gaugin represented the dog in the painting. But, Gaugin considered ‘Areara’ one of his finest works and even purchased the piece for himself in 1895.
Pet owners love decorating their dogs and making them prettier by painting their fur with safe paints or even dressing them up with cute costumes.
You can also decorate their life by hanging one or a couple of these beautiful dog art completed throughout history. You can paint a portrait of your own or even use applications to convert a photo of your dog to a portrait. These are the best ways you can pay homage to your dog, which gives you unconditional love and loyalty.
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