Pets are members of the family, and as such, they've often appeared in family portraits. Some animals were lucky enough to end up in world-famous galleries and museums. Great artists were commissioned to paint dynasties and their animals, or these creatures served as muses for various astounding creatives. From Renoir and Titian to Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol, there are many artists who loved their pets and many pet-centric artworks to pour over.
In 1887, Renoir painted a portrait of Julie Manet called "Child with Cat." If you're wondering about the surname, wonder no longer. Julie was indeed related to Edouard Manet. She was the daughter of his younger brother Eugene and Berthe Morisot, and at the time of this painting, she was a nine-year-old girl smitten with her kitten.
The satirical British artist William Hogarth painted a self-portrait in 1745 titled "The Painter and His Pug." The pug was called Trump, and Hogarth felt a keen kinship with it. Trump had a fighting spirit, just like his master and a future American president with the same name. This painting inspired other artists at the time to pose with their pets or paint them.
Henry Raeburn gave bunnies their due in 1814 with a depiction of his stepdaughter's son cradling his treasured rabbit. The human subject could not speak and was deaf, but he could communicate with his pet. The painting shows the rabbit eating dandelion leaves.
Sir Edwin Landseer, the painter and sculptor, was known for his animal-themed artworks. He was commissioned to paint Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's beloved pets. The Queen had a spaniel named Dash, and Prince Albert brought his greyhound Eos from Germany. Sir Edwin Landseer's renowned painting "Windsor Castle in Modern Times" also features some of the royal couple's other pets.
Pablo Picasso loved animals. He particularly liked goats and dogs and featured both animals in his artworks, such as "Goat,1952". His pet goat was named Esmerelda, and he lived with a dachshund named Lump for six years. Lump appeared in Picasso's reinterpretations of Velázquez's "Las Meninas." He belonged to the photographer David Douglas Duncan but stayed in Canne with Picasso and his family and died a week before the great artist did.
Kahlo loved animals, and they appeared in close to 40% of her artworks. Many of the creatures who made it into the Mexican artist's works were her pets. After a bus accident left her unable to have children, these pets became her babies. Her favorite dog, Señor Xolotl, appears in "The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Diego, Me, and Senor Xolotl (1949)." Kahlo also had monkeys, birds, and a fawn and painted self-portraits with them, too.
Warhol and his mother shared their home with 25 cats. It all started with his first cat, Hester, who needed company. That's when Sam entered the picture. The colony grew from there, and the unusual living arrangement resulted in colorful lithographs. Eventually, Warhol released a limited edition book called "25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy" featuring his mom's calligraphy.
Not much is known about the dog in "The Vendramin Family, venerating a Relic of the True Cross," considered one of the greatest group portraits ever created, except that it emphasizes the youthfulness of the Vendramin sons. The portrait was painted in the early 1540s and can be seen at the National Gallery in London.
Bonheur's popular depiction of her French otterhound, Brizo, recently featured at the Wallace Collection in London. It's an intimate portrait called "Brizo, A Shepherd's Dog" and was painted in 1864. This oil on canvas painting is so true to life you could almost call out to little Brizo.
He of the famous eggs. House of Fabergé, the acclaimed Russian jewelry firm, was commissioned by King Edward VII to depict his and Queen Alexandra's dog Vassilka, gifted by Tsar Alexander III. Vassilka was a borzoi and, among 75 other prizes, he won best dog at the Norwich Kennel Club Show. Fabergé's portrait is made of silver and aventurine quartz.
In 1580, Fontana painted "Portrait of a Noblewoman," a remarkable study of a young Bolognese lady dripping with jewels and clothed in expensive garments. What really stands out is the tiny dog at her side. The dog may have been a pet, or in true Renaissance style, it could be a symbol representing marital faithfulness.
The Queen herself took great pleasure in making watercolors. In 1850, she sketched Swan, a white greyhound residing at the Royal Kennels in Windsor. Queen Victoria was highly interested in dog breeding, and her kennels bred terriers and pugs, too.
Artists with artist friends often depict each other. Escobar was friends with Georgia O'Keeffe and took a photograph of her with her canine besties, two Chows called Bo and Chia. This photo became a charming sculpture. Bo and Chia were Christmas presents in 1953; their owner considered them "little people." She would take long walks and watch the sunrise with them.
Jamie Wyeth, the American realist painter, encountered Andy Warhol when he was his father's contemporary. The younger Wyeth recently created a portrait of Warhol's dachshund Archie based on older sketches. Archie is the modern art world's second most famous sausage dog after Picasso's Lump. He would accompany Warhol to Studio 54 and had a similar personality to his owner.
"Le Civilisateur," completed in 1944, portrays Margritte's dog, Jackie, and is worth over a million dollars. In the artwork, the dog appears wise and perhaps critical of the war. The Surrealist artist and his wife Georgette had no kids and formed a close bond with their canines. Their favorites were their four Pomeranians, two called Loulou and two called Jackie.
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