Dogs in Historical art

Let's brush up on our history! Dogs have been featured throughout film, art, literature and so much more throughout history. Today we start with the top paintings from famous artist of dogs throughout history but we will be following up with many more! 


Dash & Queen Victoria

Given to Queen Victoria by Leopold II, King of the Belgians, the Princess is in evening dress, holding a rose, near a table with books and a globe. At her feet is a spaniel, probably Dash. When Dash died his epitaph read: ‘His attachment was without selfishness, His playfulness without malice, His fidelity without deceit. READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH’ 

Painted by : Sir George Hayter

Dog: Dash, King Charles Cavalier Spaniel (this wasn't her first painting but one of many!) 


The Prince of Whales's Phaeton

The phaeton was the sports car of the day: a light, open, owner-driven, two-horse carriage. 
The Prince’s carriage here is to be drawn by two magnificently sleek black horses, whose coats and accoutrements match the colours of the carriage and the livery of the groom. Contemporaries would have recognised in this painting a reflection upon (even a portrait of) the owner of this equipage — the Prince of Wales. We see here a Prince unstuffy enough to drive his own carriage, reducing the trappings of rank to a set of modest silver arms decorating the horses’ blinkers. The pomp of a Prince is replaced by the elegance of a man of fashion.

Painted by: George Stubbs / 1793

Dog: The Prince’s  Spitz dog, Fino

Arnolfini Portrait.jpg

The Arnolfini Portrait or also known as the Arnolfini Wedding/Marriage. 

A full length, double portrait believed to depict the Italian Merchant Giovanni Di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife. Presumably in their home in the Flemish City of Bruges. 

Painted by: Jan Van Eyck / 1434

Dog: The little dog symbolises loyalty or can be seen as an emblem of lust, signifying the couple's desire to have a child. Unlike the couple, he looks out to meet the gaze of the viewer.  The dog could also be simply a lap dog, a gift from husband to wife. Many wealthy women in the court had lap dogs as companions. So, the dog could reflect the wealth of the couple and their position in courtly life.


The Las Meninas (also known as the Ladies-in-Waiting) 

This painting is world famous, mainly for it's complex composition and the strange depiction of which raises questions about reality and illusion. Due to it's complexities it is one of the most studied works in Western Painting. 

The young child featured is Maraget Theresa and her entourage of maids, chaperones, bodyguard, two dwarfs and a dog. Just behind them, Velázquez portrays himself working at a large canvas. 

Painted by: Diego Velazquez / 1656

Dog: The large dog is most likely a family dog, you can see a dwarf or small child kicking the dog. (Most patient dog in the world..) 


Itzcuintli Dog with Me

Due to the 1925 bus accident, Frida was unable to bear children. As substitutes for children she collected dolls and had many pets such as, birds, monkeys, dogs and even a deer. In this self-portrait, Frida poses with one of her Itzcuintli dogs. These are rare and expensive dogs and were highly prized by the Aztec.

In this self-portrait, Frida painted herself with a relaxed and elegant attitude smoking a cigarette. Although the expression on her face is seductive and sensual, the black dress, the gloomy background wall and the empty room all project a mood of loneliness. Frida frequently sought security and affection from her many pets…after all they were her children. However, in this painting she seems to have no connection with her pet dog.

Painted by: Frida Kahlo / 1938

Dog: A small Itzcuintli dog, rare and expensive and prized by Aztecs, known as the Xolo for short are most notable for their hairless appearance & vigorous health and calm demeanor!