Dogs in Art

On my recent trip to the MFA in Boston, MA I again noticed the central aspect of dogs. Such as on ladies laps, a sign of love and affection, hunting dogs, loyal dogs by their masters and dog as the focal point such as the master piece by Gerrit Dou “Dog at Rest” 1650.

Gerrit Dou dog

The dog has appeared in paintings as far back as 4500 BC when canines appeared on cave walls. As the dog’s relationship with the human evolved, so did the way he is represented in art. In the 18th century, dog portraits became popular amongst the wealthy British.

Spanish painter, Diego Velasquez (1599-1660) painted the dog in the company of children. In this image “Maids of Honor”, we see a large dog in the foreground tolerating an ornery child.

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In 1866 artist Edouard Manet created “A King Charles Spaniel”

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Another famous artist Pablo Picasso created a pastel and gouache on cardboard called “Boy With Dog” 1905

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And one of my childhood favorites is Norman Rockwell (1894-1978). He frequently used puppies ans dogs in his paintings, some as the main subject, and some as the sidekick, or partner in crime as in “No Swimming”

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What era would you dog fit into? Do you have your dog in a piece of Art?

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George Eastman Museum – A history of Dogs in photos

When did dogs come into our lives as pets?

Wikipedia and other sites will tell you they aren’t exactly sure. They know it was the Grey Wolf about 27,000-40,000 years ago.  These dogs were mainly seen as assistants to humans. The hunters-gatherers types. Some scientists argue that friendly wolves sought out humans. Friendliness caused strange things to happen in the wolves. They started to look different. Domestication gave them splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. In only several generations, these friendly wolves would have become very distinctive from their more aggressive relatives. But the changes did not just affect their looks. Changes also happened to their psychology. These protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures.

As dog owners we take for granted that our dog can get the toy we ask them too. Or if we have taken the time to teach out dogs hand gestures, they can read us. They are reading us! All of the time.Some dogs are so attuned to their owners that they can read even a simple, subtle change in eye direction.

Throughout history, animals have played a key role in human life. People have come to rely on animals for food, clothing, and transportation. Even religious worship.

From what I have learned pet keeping wasn’t generally accepted in Europe until the end of the 17th century, and it wasn’t common among the middle classes until the late 18th century. Pet keeping in its present form is probably a 19th century Victorian invention. At this time, it was perceived as a link with the natural world, which itself was no longer seen as threatening. It also allowed a visible demonstration of man’s domination over nature.

My reason to today’s blog is not to school you in the history of pet keeping but to answer my curiosity of when were dogs important enough to photograph?

The George Eastman House Museum

In my on-going quest to answer this question. I stumbled upon some answers. While Bud and I were attending the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY for a class in Daguerreotypes, we had a chance to visit the museum, or “George’s house”. I was surprised to find these four photos hanging in his private family collection.

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Be Sure to look closely at the dates. The 1800’s!

When I travel through a museum I have this thing about seeing how many paintings include a dog, I want a better understanding. It’s quite a lot actually. Dogs by themselves hunting. Or a girl in a beautiful dress holding a dog. Dogs at the feet of their masters. One of my favorites is of a dog “relieving” himself in what seems to be a church. Come to find out Emanuel de Witte painted this scene quite a bit. Were dogs even allowed in Church? Not in my day, that would have been cool!

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It seems as though dogs for pets were for the wealthy. I suppose so were photographs and paintings, so who’s to say the un-wealthy didn’t keep any dogs for pets. It could be that it just was not recorded.

 

In my travels I keep any eye out for old photographs of dogs. Here are some I have come across.

Do you have any old photos of a dog?

Down on the Farm! the SOPHA and KSP

Rain?, We are New Englanders and Photographers,  rain won’t stop us!

Ok, so the weather was not ideal, but the energy of Bud Thorpe, the staff and the participants were perfect. We were all in this together. Everyone who said they were going to attend did. Hooray!

It was a long day, I had been asked to lead a shoot for a dog portrait and a horse portrait.

Little Miss Fiona, a French Bull Dog was my first subject, she is still one of the cutest dogs I have photographed, she made a great model for all the photographers. Her Mom, Sue was a great dog handler for us as well.

I had come up with a concept shot days before, gathered my props and brought them to the farm. Now if you have not yet heard of the “Down on the Farm” shoot, this is a big annual event that The SOPHA ( thesopha.com) holds in Deefield, NH. Huge I tell you. Huge. If you are a photographer, no matter what you shoot, The SOPHA had a concept for you. 12 to be exact. From an old fashioned fishing dock with two little boys, a lemonade stand, Food, High School Senior, Fashion, Gangsta Car, Revolutionary War Rein-actor, Bride and a Wedding Carriage, Dog, Horse etc! Phew!

Back to my concept, Tea Party. Good old fashioned tea party, with Fiona and her girl.Feather boas, flowers for the table and a beautiful background! This shot was set up with one light, outdoors. I really think the shot came together well.

 

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Fiona and Emma, Tea Time

 

We moved on to another concept, bails of hay,  Each photographer stood in line for each concept and took turns shooting Fiona. I was exhausted at making sounds to get her attention. But we did it with the help of Sue.

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Fiona and Jack

 

My idea for a Horse portrait did not go as planned, we had to move location, but hay, you just have to go with it! The every professional and handsome Smokey was our model, he did fantastic. Was very calm and patient for all the photographers to “get” their shot.

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Smokey

 

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Smokey and Erica

Above is Erica and Smokey, adorable!

 

That’s it for today folks, I hope you enjoyed the photos!