The interesting interactions between man and animal are heightened in the unique relationship between a pet owner and their beloved animal companions. Some have described the bond as therapeutic and de-stressing, forging codependency between pets and their owners. In addition to companionship, pets also aid mental and physical activeness in creativity and exercise.
Whether soothing or chaotic, creatives have enjoyed the influence of pets in their lives and work for centuries. From Matisse’s cats to Dalí’s unique ocelot and even Kahlo’s curious array of creatures, furry companions of all kinds have stirred the creativity of many famous artists. Additionally, several others have translated their love for animals into art by including them in their works.
Dogs are particularly very popular with animal lovers, appearing in countless paintings from ancient times to contemporary art. Also, dog paintings remain the most common of all animal paintings, with cat paintings coming in second. This article examines five animal-loving artists and their famous art with dogs.
Pierre Auguste Renoir
Pierre Auguste Renoir was a French artist who had a formative influence on the development of Impressionism. His works are distinguishable for their depth of color and bright lighting. As a student under Charles Gleyre, he met and befriended Claude Monet, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley in his early training years. The four would eventually develop art together and rise as respectable artists.
One of his most notable impressionist works is his 1880 painting Le Déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party). It debuted at the 1882 Impressionist exhibition in Paris and was regarded as the best piece in the show by multiple critics. It currently resides at the Phillips Collection Museum in Washington, D.C.
The painting combines a richness of form with lush landscaping in one scene. It depicts Renoir’s friends having lunch and relaxing on the balcony of the Maison Fournaise restaurant in Paris. Of interest to this article is Renoir’s future wife depicted in the foreground with a little dog in her hands. The dog is an Affenpinscher, a toy dog bearing similarities to the Terrier.
Francisco De Goya
Goya was a notable Spanish court painter and printmaker during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He is regarded as the most famous artist in Spanish art history. Goya’s works effortlessly straddle classical and contemporary arts, earning him the designation “last of the Old Masters and first of the moderns.”
“El Perro” is one of the most famous dog paintings by Goya depicting a dog’s head. The dog gazes upwards as the rest of its body is submerged in an unidentifiable mass. It is housed at the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
It is speculated that the dog looks distressed and could even be drowning. This theory may not be very far from the truth, as the painting was created during Goya’s dark period of isolation due to mental distress
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
Fondly called “Cash” Coolidge or “Kash Koolidge”, he was an American painter of the late 19th century to early 20th century famous for depicting anthropomorphized dogs. Coolidge was born and raised in New York, where he lived out most of his artistic career.
His most substantial works are his 18-painting collective of paintings titled “Dogs Playing Poker”. The collection features a series of 16 paintings promoting cigars for the advertising company Brown & Bigelow and two independent paintings. They mostly depict dogs sitting around a table and enjoying a poker game.
The series features some famous dog paintings, including A Friend in Need and His Station and Four Aces. Several reproductions have been made and featured multiple times in entertainment. Today, the paintings are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, with his 1894 Poker Game painting selling for $658,000 at a New York auction in 2015. .
Seurat was a French Post-Impressionist painter of the late 19th century. He is renowned for the infusion of quasi-scientific methods into his artistry. His extensive studies fuelled his interest in the scientific side of art, and he eventually pioneered the Pointillism painting technique. It uses tiny dots of color to create art, expecting the viewer’s mind to blend the distinct dots into a fuller image.
His most notable artwork, Un Dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte (Sunday Afternoon at La Grande Jatte), was created using the Pointillism technique. The mural-sized painting is composed of distinct, colorful spots that merge into a complete scene when viewed from a distance.
The painting depicts people participating in various leisure activities on a sunny afternoon at the park. It also features pets, a monkey, and three dogs, enjoying their day at the park. The dogs are preoccupied with activities like sniffing around for food, leaping after butterflies, and strutting in the sun.
Hardy was a 19th-century British painter known for his animal paintings, particularly his equestrian scenes. Owners of the winning horses at the Grand National, a national hunt horse racing competition, commissioned Hardy to paint portraits of their horses. Although horse-riding images later became his signature art form, many of those paintings also feature hunting dogs.
Fox Hunt is one of Hardy’s most notable paintings. The oil painting depicts a hunting scene with Horse riders and hunting dogs. The hunting dogs depicted were used for chasing and catching red foxes in the English woodlands, an ostentatious practice that is now very controversial.
Hardy uses vibrant red on the riders’ jackets to accentuate the pastoral tones of the English countryside. Hardy produced other similar works like Going For Cover and In Pursuit.
Although animals are generally popular motifs in art, dogs are the most popular. They have become a regular part of human living, and seeing as art often depicts the natural world, it is common to spot dogs in many artworks. Over time, artists have created several canine paintings, showcasing dogs differently.