Portraits of dogs at London’s Wallace Collection

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Canine show


There's a treat in store for art-focused dog lovers


M an’s (and quite possibly woman’s) best friend will be enjoying a place in the limelight courtesy of London’s Wallace Collection this year.

Running from 29 March until mid-October, the museum’s latest exhibition, Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney, brings together a wide selection of paintings, drawings, sculptures (even taxidermy – shocked emoji) which should fascinate anyone with even a passing interest in the enduring bond between humans and their canine companions.

Dogs became prevalent in artworks from the 17th century onwards especially, you will probably not be surprised to learn, in Britain.

The Wallace show aims to feature images of the animals without their humans allowing the viewer perhaps to muse on the personality of an owner based on the depiction of their furry companion.

The museum’s director, Dr Xavier Bray, himself the proud owner of pugs Bluebell and Winston, says he was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing the exhibits.

'Two of our most popular paintings are seminal dog portraits, Rosa Bonheur’s Brizo, A Shepherd’s Dog and Edwin Landseer’s Doubtful Crumbs,' he says.

'They represent two very contrasting approaches to the art of dog portraiture. Bonheur’s portrait is a superbly lifelike and intimate portrayal of her French otterhound, Brizo. By contrast, Landseer is more interested in introducing a biblical parable into his portrayal, exemplifying the 19th-century urge to moralise through dog portraiture.'

Another highlight of the exhibition is a Leonardo da Vinci drawing from the 1490s, which focuses intently on a left forepaw, possibly that of a deerhound. As one might expect, the Renaissance maestro captures all the fine anatomical detail with laser-like precision.

Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney is at the Wallace Collection, London, from 29 March until 15 October.

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