Dogs have been a part of families for centuries, as beloved companions, trained guides, and hunters. They have inspired famous artists throughout history, and those works of art are still appreciated today.
It is fascinating how art can be interpreted differently by its audience. If you want to add a new piece to your art collection or if you are an artist yourself looking for some inspiration, we have gathered some of the most famous dog paintings for you to admire, and we will take a quick look at their history, the artists, and what they may portray.
The Top 12 Most Famous Dog Paintings In History
1. The Dog: Francisco Goya
Francisco De Goya originally painted this intriguing image, referred to as “The Dog,” on the walls of his home in Spain. It was eventually transferred to canvas in 1873.
Art critics interpret the painting differently, but the consensus is that it holds some element of loneliness conveyed by the dogs’ expressions. The monotoned and empty background could be portrayed as abandoned or neglected as the dog is surrounded by nothing but a void.
The floor is open for interpretation since Francisco Goya never intended publicly exhibit this painting.
2. A Jack in Office: Sir Edward Landseer
Painted by Sir Edward Landseer in 1833 and considered one of his best paintings, “A Jack in Office” is an effective metaphor for the corrupt government and the imbalance of fairness fed by the people in authority. A plump Jack Russell Terrier is the focus, which is fitting for the pun in the title. He sits entitled and confident, protecting the food from the hungry and malnourished dogs
3. A Portrait of Maurice: Andy Warhol
This colorful and psychedelic painting of a Dachshund was commissioned by Andy Warhol and created using Maurice’s polaroids for reference. Warhol used synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas to achieve the bold blue, orange, and pink hues. Although his work involved mostly the rich and the famous, he was always happy to commission a portrait. In fact, if a subject were not willing to pose, Warhol would usually suggest painting a portrait of their beloved pet.
4. Julie Manet and Her Greyhound Laertes: Bertha Morisot
This oil on canvas painting was painted in 1893 by Bertha Morisot. She was a French impressionist painter considered one of the most famous female artists of her era.
This portrait is of Julie Manet, who was Bertha’s only child and was herself a painter and model.
5. A Friend in Need: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
“A Friend in Need,” also known as “Dogs Playing Poker,” is one of the most famous paintings that includes dogs and was painted by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge in 1903.
This artwork is humorous and entertaining and can usually be seen today in pubs and restaurants and will most definitely be a conversation starter in any man cave.
There are 18 paintings in the Dogs Playing Poker series that were commissioned by Brown and Bigelow to advertise cigars. These poker-playing dogs became so iconic that they have been referenced in TV shows and have become a popular logo for t-shirts, mugs, and décor.
6. King Charles Spaniel: Manet
The oil on canvas painting titled “King Charles Spaniel” was painted in 1866 by the famous French painter Édouard Manet. Édouard painted the dog’s face with very precise brushstrokes, attempting to convey the expression and emotions through the dog’s fascinating wide eyes and the white and brown colors. The looser brushstrokes on the dog’s back portray the silky fur, which is one of his most alluring features.
7. Lady Hamilton (as nature): George Romney
The famous portrait artist George Romney was appreciated for his ability to create realistic portraits and was often commissioned to paint portraits for public figures. One of his most famous paintings is titled “Lady Hamilton (as nature)” and was painted in 1782. It is commended for the brilliant use of contrast which creates a clear and detailed image of the subject’s face and garment and the sweet, intrigued pup on her lap.
8. Pride of Parenthood: Norman Rockwell
The well-known painter and illustrator from New York, Norman Rockwell, is known for his depictions of early 20th-century American culture in his artworks. The majority of Rockwell’s paintings portrayed how American families and children lived at the time, and “Pride of Parenthood” was one of those artworks. The painting depicts a young boy and his companion feeding his dog’s pups. It is a sweet representation of parenthood as the young boy and his dog are both parents, and his friend looks up to him with pride and admiration on her face.
9. Hunting Dogs in a Boat: Winslow Homer
The 19th-century American painter Winslow Homer was recognized for his work that captured the meaning of life for common citizens of the United States, and one of his most famous pieces was “Hunting Dogs in a Boat,” which he created in 1889.
It features hunting dogs aboard a rowboat in a tranquil river, with magnificent mountains in the background and autumn leaves that add gorgeous warm tones to the paintings. This scene was inspired by one of Winslow’s favorite locations, the Adirondack mountains, where he frequented a hunting lodge with an abundance of fishing and hunting opportunities.
10. Head of a Dog: Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch was a highly recognized artist known for his unique and surrealist paintings. He painted “The Head of a Dog” in 1930.
After the loss of both his mom and sister in 1908, Edvard developed a love for dogs when they kept him company while he was coping with the grief of his loss.
The composition of the painting shows a dog’s head, which was one of Edvard’s beloved companions, but not much more is known about this dog.
11. A Couple of Foxhounds: George Stubbs
“A Couple of FoxHounds” is an oil on canvas painting created by Goerge Stubbs in 1762 and is one of the most famous paintings ever created. He was praised for his realism and went on to paint many more works of art that included foxhounds in his paintings.
This painting was created for a prominent English family and included two formerly posed foxhounds with a natural background that is harmoniously balanced to create a simple but effective composition.
12. Diogenes: Jan Leon Gerome
This well-known oil on canvas painting was created by Jan Leon Gerome in 1860.
It depicts the Greek philosopher Diogenes sitting in his earthenware tub he calls home, lighting a lamp. He was often seen lighting this lantern, proclaiming he was looking for a man. Diogenes is known as the founder of Cynicism, based on the Greek word “kynikos” meaning dog-like. Some labeled him as a cynic who conveyed it to be an insult, but Diogenes wore the name with pride. He is surrounded by his canine companions begging for scraps, but he has nothing to offer but company and conversation.
There are many styles of art to suit any individual, whether you are an artist or a lover of art. If you are a dog parent and your love for your dog has inspired you creatively, we hope these famous paintings have provided you with some ideas and inspiration
Featured Image Credit: ivanovgood, Pixabay