We’re in the dog days of summer, and we need a little art to get our tails wagging. Take a look at these canine co-stars that we found hiding in paintings throughout the museum.
Image: Madonna and Child with Saints Sebastian and Roch
Bernardino Luini, ca. 1520 – 1522
Tales of dogs faithfully serving humans have been around for centuries. According to legend, this loyal canine brought lifesaving bread to Saint Roch, a medieval pilgrim who contracted the plague while caring for victims of the disease.
What name do you think this faithful dog deserves?
Image: Portrait of Francesco Franceschini
Paolo Veronese, 1551
Like the designer dogs of today, sixteenth-century dogs were sometimes seen as status symbols. In this portrait of a Renaissance nobleman, the small dog sitting obediently at his master’s feet reinforces our perception of wealth and stature.
What might Francesco Franceschini have named his pampered pet?
Image: Interior of the Pieterskerk in Leiden
Hendrik Cornelisz. Van Vliet, 1653
In art, as in life, dogs aren’t always perfectly behaved. This Dutch church is filled with characters who exhibit a range of good and bad behavior, both playful and serious. The urinating dog reminds viewers that humans are expected to behave better than animals, especially in church!
What name would you give this obedience school drop-out?
Image: Landscape with Stag Hunt
Jan van Kessel, 17th century
On first glance, this painting appears to show nothing more than a dramatic landscape. But, a closer look reveals an intense struggle for survival, as hunting dogs attack their prey amidst rushing rapids. The dogs in this scene respond to their natural instincts, as wild as the landscape itself.
What are some good names for these fearless four-legged hunters?
Image: Achilles Dipped into the River Styx
Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1630-1635
Dogs have been used as guardians by nearly every culture. Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of Greek mythology, was said to guard the gates to the Underworld. Here, Rubens paints him with three realistic, animated expressions that any dog owner would recognize.
If you could give Cerberus a modern name (or names!) what would it be?
Image: Mrs. George Frederick Stratton
Thomas Lawrence, 1811
Companionship is an essential part of the bond between dogs and humans. In this nineteenth-century portrait of an aristocratic British woman and her Newfoundland dog, the affection between the two elegant figures is undeniable.
What do you imagine Mrs. George Frederick Stratton called her beloved pup?
Come out to The Ringling and see these painted pups in person!