In the course of finding the right picture of a dog in white-tie dress for the Limits of Logic post, I found a whole bunch of weird dog pictures, so I decided to caption a few of them, and share them with you. Enjoy!
Wilhelm Trubner (1877): Dogge mit Wursten – Ave Caesar morituri te salutant. Dog with sausages – Hail Caesar, those who are about to die salute you! (German / Latin / English hat trick!) A few things come to mind: German is pretty close to English, I don’t know what this has to do with the famous but probably apocryphal gladiators’ salute, and dogs have also been putting up with food-on-nose shenanigans for centuries.
Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (CA 1834): Favourites, the Property of H. R. H. Prince George of Cambridge I know that this is just a nicely-composed and very well executed painting of a prince’s pets, but I like to imagine that this quiet scene exploded into pure mayhem a fraction of a second later. There’s just no way that the horse is just going to stand there with a dog literally holding the reins inches from its face, and that trio of birds of prey up there are basically a pressure cooker of raw high-strung anxiety and murderlust, restrained only by the hoods they’re wearing. Just a reminder that no matter how pretty and realistic and detailed an old painting is, it can be as much a product of the artist’s imagination as any digitally altered photo is today. Could all these animals have been in the same place at the same time? Sure, just not like this.
Giovanni Boldini (1905): Portrait of Elizabeth Drexel. This is the very height of Gilded Age fashion. Hilariously taken way too far, of course. That poor Chihuahua just looks dead at the viewer with resignation as she slips to the floor because her owner is too busy looking elegant to actually hold the dog up. This painting is also very much a fiction – a quick and loose sketch of movement and elegance.
Somewhere in Queensland, Australia, CA 1900. No part of this image is altered though. My favorite part is how absolutely nobody in this picture is having fun, including the bewildered looking dog. Dog carts: don’t worry, I’m planning to cover them soon.
Abraham Hondius (1670): Fight Between a Dog and a Heron. Sometimes, you get to see a bit of the artist’s process in the painting itself. That’s a very credible spaniel, but the heron is frankly hilarious. Thank goodness there are only a few species of heronish birds in Europe, and the closest I can come is that this is a (badly) taxidermied Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris). Or at least it’s dead, if not stuffed. Artists have plenty of chances to see dogs, and figure out what they look like, but secretive and notoriously well-camouflaged water birds are not so easily available.
In case you were curious, this is what a live Great Bittern looks like. Eesh, look at those weird, strongly downturned eyeballs. It’s like someone glued orange googly eyes to the underside of its brow.
PeterRohrbeck [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons