About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, July 23, 2016

getting the ship's goat?

Once upon a time, the USS Von Steuben had a goat for a mascot.  Here's what we know, as recorded in a memoir about the ship's part in WWI:
* * *
The mascot of the crew is a goat, "Billy," who is always eager to stage a mimic fight with his chums, the two dogs, "Tomatoes" and "Commodore," the latter named being the pride of Commander Wilcox. The goat is a source of much enjoyment for the crew; he pulls a varied number of funny stunts. His friends are the "boys." The Commander's dog "Commodore," after which the Hotel Commodore was named, is a favorite in the ward room. When "Commodore" is on duty in the Executive's room no one can go near it. In Panama every man had a parrot, but why mention unpleasant things?
* * *
Have I figured out which Hotel Commodore, by the way?  No.
- Ruggles, L. Elsworth. (1919). The part the U.S.S. Von Steuben played in the great war. Brooklyn, [N.Y.]: Brooklyn Eagle Press. 63.

Friday, July 22, 2016

red dog

By Franz Marc (1880–1916) (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart) [PD], via Wikimedia Commons
By the time he painted this "Roter Hund" (Red Dog" in 1911, Franz Marc had moved his studies from theology to painting.  In a way, he hadn't moved all that far, as he approached art with a search for spiritual purity that placed animals at the center of his symbolism.  Color was paramount, too: for example, red came to equal the materially bound, even violent aspects of life.  I'm not sure he had that philosophy solidified in this early work, in which a monumentally scaled dog rests in a rugged landscape.  Marc's animal symbol of choice, eventually, was the horse, and it's with horses that his work reached its full flower.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

dogs on ships: here's one

Wilhelm Hester [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Well, this is exciting - The Pet Museum is partnering with the MB Fountain over in the UK to co-curate an online exhibition of dogs on ships! This all hit me late yesterday, so I'm still prepping ideas and research. Get ready for a lot of historic/vintage photos of dogs on deck, everyone! Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, I'm starting off with this snap from back in the day in The Pet Museum's neighborhood: Capt CH Jensen & his dog on the ALSTERKAMP, Puget Sound, WA, ca 1904.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

mistaken? yet beautiful

thanks vintageprintable.com (PD)
This serene and elegant natural history illustration was labeled as a Doberman, but I think otherwise.  Not only does this creature not resemble any Doberman I've ever seen, but the inscription at the side reads "Canis venaticus Tunicus."  My usual rough Latin translation is coming up with "Hunting dog, Tunisian."  (Got a correction?  Seriously, tell me.)  So - a saluki, an Afghan Hound?  In any case, worth the moment's savoring.  If the actual piece glows like this illustration, it might be on parchment.  Look too at how fresh those colors remain after what I'm betting is at least a couple centuries, if not three.

Monday, July 18, 2016

a landscape painter paints his pet cat

By Johann Benjamin Ehrenreich (1733 or 1739–1806) (Dr. Senckenbergische Stiftung) [PD], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, July 17, 2016


 John Wootton, Muff: a Black and White Dog. Photographic Rights © Tate, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), museum record here
Might this appealing mutt named Muff have been a noble pet?  According to the painting's information page at the Tate, an old inscription on its reverse reads "From the Collection of the Duchess of Portland," and its date of creation c. 1740-50 would line up with the lifetime of Margaret Cavendish-Bentinck.  A gifted natural historian, she had particular interests in birds, seashells and botany; you'll notice the unusual bird and flower on the right.  John Wootton (English, c. 1682 - 1764) was a fashionable painter of sporting scenes, and enjoyed a good deal of patronage from the nobility.  He normally focused on horses, but let's face it, when the Duchess of Portland asks for a dog portrait, you make her one.  I'd like to think that the friendly, relaxed feel of this work had its source in the atmosphere around that gifted lady.

Friday, July 15, 2016

hound and varlet, 13th c

the metropolitan museum of art  - Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Actually the record at the Met for this object dating from c. 1240 reads "Medallion with Varlet with Horn and Hound."  I changed it to refer to my biased view.  This small decoration is gilt and enamel cloisonné on copper, 3 9/16" diameter, made in Limoges.  (You probably know that name for something else way more breakable made way later.)