Ancient Roman Mosiac

While thinking about today’s topic, I wanted to concentrate on English Dog Art, primarily the Victorian Era, but found so many historical pieces I felt I needed to delve into the subject further than I had planned. We can see that man’s, woman’s and child’s best friend has been immortalized since the beginning of time.

Ancient Egypt

With this in mind, I wanted to ask an art expert so I immediately called upon my dear friend, Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe at The Art Institute of Chicago, to share some of her favorite pieces in The Art Institute’s vast collections.

Here are her choices along with the reasons for choosing them, as always she enlightens us by giving us a look into art that we might not have seen for ourselves, making each work more intimate and more interesting. I send her my heartfelt thanks for contributing to this post. Be sure to get to The Art Institute of Chicsgo for Gloria’s current brilliant exhibition MONET AND CHICAGO now through January 18, 2021. Check The Art Institute’s website for details on hours, social distancing and other important information. https://www.artic.edu

The following illustrations courtesy of Gloria Groom.


“I love this dog who looks as elegant as the distinguished subject by one of Italy’s great portrait painters and because the scale is lifesize the dog seems to be there with us.

Perhaps because he’s an Italian hound which I think my Dog Duke is (despite the fact that according to the ancestry for dogs site, Embark, he’s said to be mostly “Mountain cur” whatever that is!) Here’s Duke and the portrait of him by School of the Art Institute Adjunct professor Mark Krisco! If you ever want an oil painting of your beloved canine he’s the best!”


“Boilly, the quintessential genre painter never disappoints Not only does he draw from the exquisitely detailed realism of Dutch 17h century genre painting but his subjects, often times of the down and out, as in this picture of people moving before the landlord finds them for unpaid rent, he borrows the down to earth subject matter here the perfectly anodyne street dog at the far right almost out of the picture snarls at the smaller dog who is taking cover under the cart while at the left larger, more robust canines (perhaps of the Pit bull family?) pull a cart.”


“And when Boilly takes on the upper crust, as in this amazingly large and painterly pen and ink wash work on paper showing the swells propositioning (or being propositioned by?) the women of the night at the Palais Royale (a well known trysting venue) the dogs, a vignette that could be a picture within a picture, emulate their owners sexual escapades.”


“This is a fantastic pastel made by Manet during his later years — we’ve not been able to identify the sitter but perhaps the dog is a Newfoundland? But in Manet’s hands he’s simply gestured in chalk onto the page — as in motion with the most economical means of medium and yet he’s all there and we know that he is big and looking at something to the left of the picture frame.”


“And finally a work by a British artist that is probably the least known in the collection (with the exception of the Manet and Boilly watercolor which are not on view for conservation reasons), Miss Eleanor Margaret Gibson-Carmichael has a name and a dog bigger than she is. Open mouthed, drooling with joy, he is definitely the family dog (what kind I don’t know) ready for the rough and tumble activities of his pint-size owners.”

I’ll save my Victorian dog paintings for another post. Stay tuned!!!

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