I enjoyed this exhibition and definitely recommend visiting.
About the exhibition
This is The Wallace Collection‘s major new exhibition Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney, open from 29 March to 15 October 2023.
It features over 50 works of arts, ranging from paintings to sculptures, drawings, and even taxidermy.
It has a strong focus on British portraiture.
The description of the exhibition is that it ‘highlights the unique bond between humans and their canine companions’ and shows artists ‘challenging themselves how best to represent mankind’s most faithful and fearless friend’. I felt it achieved this well.
The Queen and her corgis
Alongside the exhibition, until 25 June there is a free display of photographs of Queen Elizabeth II and her corgis.
It is a really interesting moment as we are seeing The Queen change into a part of history.
The photographs show The Queen’s love of corgis from girlhood throughout her life.
The family tree on the wall shows how she bred them.
The exhibition is structured into rooms by themes including Allegorical dogs, Artists’ Dogs, and Toy Dogs.
As we know on this blog I love small and cute dogs most, so Toy Dogs was bound to be a favourite room for me.
The exhibition highlights the colonial background to the emergence of the Pekinese in Britain.
This room also contains some examples of taxidermy and they are truly creepy!
The exhibition features an incredible array of artists and their differing approaches, from Thomas Gainsborough to Leonardo da Vinci to Lucian Freud.
There are several paintings by great animal painter Edwin Landseer (1802-1873).
Though we commonly see photos of these paintings, as with many of the paintings in the exhibition it was amazing to see the brushwork up close.
With Landseer it was interesting to view the characterful, often melancholy expression in dog subjects’ eyes.
A successful exhibition
I’ve got a few history books about dogs in art and I was wondering whether physically going to an exhibition would add much for me.
I was definitely very struck by the aura of many of exhibits, especially the taxidermy and the Landseer paintings.
Across the range of exhibits the essential emotion of people’s love for dogs was articulated.
Another thing about going to the exhibition in person is it was interesting to see the reaction of other people to the exhibits.
There was a joyfulness in the room about David Hockney and his pair of dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie.
‘Dog Painting 41’ (1995) from the series Dog Days is one of the poster images of the exhibition, and I bought the postcard of it in the shop.
There is pathos to many of the exhibits, and this painting immediately brings back the cheeky humour and warmth that we love dogs for.
Here are some of the items available in the shop.
The café-restaurant area had an elegant Grand Café feel.