Monday, June 12, 2023

Portraits of Dogs

 Lapdogs, to be precise. From Apollo:

Ever since Rakewell swooned through ‘Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney’ at the Wallace Collection, only to be disappointed that the curators weren’t given a longer leash, your correspondent has been craving more canines on canvas. Imagine our delight, then, when we set eyes on the late 18th-century portrait of a pup, believed to be Pompon, Marie Antoinette’s favourite pet, which sold for $279,400 – nearly 56 times its low estimate – at Sotheby’s this week.

Never mind that there’s little proof the portrait has anything to do with the French queen; the artist, Jacques Barthélémy Delamarre, painted miscellaneous mutts, rabbits and cats across a largely undistinguished career. The work’s title, Portrait of a Poodle, is patently inaccurate. Whatever this creature’s lineage (a löwchen, perhaps?), it certainly does not belong to the titular breed. No what really hits home is the sheer horror staring out from the creature’s surprisingly intelligent eyes, fringed by ludicrous locks. If ever there was a cautionary tale about human-to-animal reincarnation, this haunted hound is it.

Delamarre painted several versions of this pooch in various states of coiffure. Perhaps the tenuous Marie Antoinette connection comes, in part, from similarities between this doggy hairdo and the queen’s own elaborate curls. For those looking for more canine couture, we’ve called a couple more companions to heel. (Read more.)



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