Dogs have a special place in art. You would see it everywhere. However, although dogs are universally identified as a man’s best friend, in art, their presence yields a multitude of interpretations. Classical antiquity, for instance, uses Canine to demonstrate treachery. In contrast, renaissance portraiture uses dogs to signify anything ranging from fidelity to seduction.
Despite this difference in interpretation, in the way it has been painted on canvas, dogs also signify elements of protection, companionship, loyalty, and guidance. And following these characteristics, they have seen to enjoy a dominant and essential place in the lives of famous artists.
To understand the obsession with dogs in art, let us look at the following famous dog paintings inspired by the dogs of famous artists.
You could assess the love for a pet when you see Pablo Picasso honoring his friend, a dachshund named Lump. It was in 1957 that the artist met the dog. The famous photographer Duncan brought Lump together with him while visiting Picasso. Lump did not really get along with other pets of Duncan and, upon visiting Picasso, instantly knew that he found his new home.
Picasso was delighted to have this new family member, and he immediately created the first portrait of Lump, a famous dog painting on a plate, while he was having lunch with his future wife, Jacqueline Roque. This marks the significance of the bond between the two, and in several portraits created by Picasso, one would spot the presence of Lump. For instance, Meninas was a series comprising 44 studies in which Lump was present in at least 15 works.
One of the most figurative painters of history, the grandson of Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud, was known for translating the psychological aspects of the human body in the form of rich color and loose brushwork. He has created complicated and fleshy portraits of famous celebrities like Kate Moss and David Hockney. In contrast to adding forensic cruelty when making human portraits, Freud incorporated a touch of tenderness for paintings of animals, especially when creating famous art with dogs.
Freud had immense love for animals and painted almost all sorts of animals. Lucian brought a cute puppy in 1988 and named it Pluto. They spent almost 12 years together, and, in the end, the artist immortalized his dog in the artwork Pluto aged twelve. In addition, this pet appeared in several dog portraits. However, in comparison to humans, Freud preferred animals more. And this was most true for his dog Pluto as it lived even after the demise of the artist as present in the company logo of Freud’s daughter, which Freud himself designed.
When it comes to animal anatomy, Marc was an expert. He had his own unique style, yet, the artistic style of others impacted it. One of the most famous dog paintings, ‘Dog Lying in the Snow’ is among the pretty dog paintings you’ve ever seen that were originally oil on canvas depicting the artist’s dog, a Siberian Shepherd, Russi, lying in the snow of January. Marc said the landscape was beautiful, but the snow appeared too white. It was a challenge to create a dog portrait in such an environment, yet he used colors yellow and green to showcase his dog in the snowy landscape. The curves in which the dog lays are in line with nature, showcasing harmony in the painting created by Marc.
The artist believed that animals were pure in contrast to humans, who could not live up to this purity. He believed animals were a medium to salvation and were close to God. The painting speaks volumes about the peace and innocence depicted by its simplicity, and the two-dimensional angular surface does, however, show the presence of cubist influence on the style used by the artist.
Andy Warhol spent a lot of time sharing his home with cats. Finally, he decided to bring in a dog, and his first choice was a dachshund. His love for this new pet was so great that he would even take him to press conferences. He would intelligently divert questions to Archie and was commonly found saying, “no comment, right? The companionship was so intense that Archie was often said to be Andy’s mirror. Like how Andy usually behaved, he would sit and look at people without saying anything.
Since Warhol traveled a lot, he worried Archie would be left alone back home. As a result, he got a playmate, another dachshund, and named him Amos. Warhol soon started painting his pets, and soon one could find his dogs in his paintings.
Edward Munch is said to have flawless taste when it comes to pets. He was especially fond of dogs and got them in all sizes. For instance, Boy is an example of a Gordon Setter and is featured in the artwork Dog’s Face (1927). Saint Bernard, Bamse, is seen to enjoy the outdoors in the artwork Horse Team and a St. Bernard in the Snow. However, Munch was too close to his dogs to the point of having separation anxiety. So when he went to the cinema, he bought a ticket for Boy.
Despite the wide range of symbolism that dogs signify in art, ranging from treachery to seduction, powerful enough to describe devotional relationships, they continue to dominate art with characteristics of companionship and loyalty. This is most obvious in their obsession with famous artists like Picasso, Munch, and several others who would not prefer living away from their pets. Their love for dogs was so enormous that they began creating dog portraits, and their pet dogs were used for a number of dog portraits that got fame and money for centuries.