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Dogs of The Ringling Museum of Art

Learn about some of the pups painted in the Museum of Art so you can spot these canine co-stars on your next visit!

Detail from Madonna and Child with Saints Sebastian and Roch, Berardino Luini, at The Ringling Museum of Art

Madonna and Child with Saints Sebastian and Roch, Berardino 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.

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 Detail from Interior of the Pieterskerk in Leiden Hendrik Cornelisz. Van Vliet, 1653, at The Ringling Museum of Art

Detail from 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!

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Portrait of Francesco Franceschini by Paolo Veronese, 1551, at The Ringling Museum of Art

Portrait of Francesco Franceschini, by 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.

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Detail from Achilles Dipped into the River Styx Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1630 - 1635, at The Ringling Museum of Art

Detail from 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.

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Detail from Drawing of the Lottery, Piazza delle Erbe, Turin, by Giovanni Michele Granieri, 1756, at The Ringling Museum of Art

Detail from Drawing of the Lottery, Piazza delle Erbe, Turin, by Giovanni Michele Granieri, 1756 SN195

This bustling marketplace overflows with animated shoppers, piled merchandise, and eager townspeople awiting the announcement of the annual lottery winnter. Unnoticed in the hubbub, a curious street dog sniffs at wares from a toppled cart. Perhaps he hopes to win his own lottery in the form a fallen morsel.

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Mrs. George Frederick Stratton, by Thomas Lawrence, 1811 at The Ringling Museum of Art

Mrs. George Frederick Stratton, by 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.

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