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 !

Monday, March 11, 2019

drink to the dogs

Gift of Ernest Brummer, 1957 www.metmuseum.org
Perhaps this was a hunting cup: one hand on your weapons, one on your wine (so, one handled), and round the rim of the cup homage to the very dogs that were helping you chase down the prey.  This is a Greek skyphos, a deep cup, dating from the late 8th to the early 7th century B.C.   See where the handle's been placed?  Imagine holding that.  It probably helped stabilize the beverage.  Here's this item's original page at the Met if you would like to learn a little more.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

amsterdam blep

www.rijksmuseum.nl (PD)
Longtime Museum friends know that I often wish books still included decorations like this: at the end or beginning of a chapter, perhaps, or at the bottom of the page because why not.  This particular one was etched sometime in the mid-1700's by Simon Fokke (Dutch, 1712-84), who made his living on tiny portraits and book vignettes.  Whomever commissioned this tiny treasure must have had a sense of humor, because when you look closely....

Or whatever you personally call a happy stuck-out dog tongue.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, www.nga.gov (PD)
This delicate portrait by Joseph Goodhue Chandler (American, 1813-84) dates from c. 1836-38.  He had only just embarked on his painting career, and most of his early work is of family members.  Perhaps this brown-eyed "Girl With a Kitten" is one of these relations.  It's interesting to me how well modeled her face is compared to the flattened treatment of her dress and her pose; I also note the fine spray of greenery outside the window, which to me reflects all the tender growing this young lady has ahead.  As sweet as she looks, she's got a fierce companion:

Would you look at that face?  What a mighty hunter.  

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

wordless vintage wednesday redux

from the museum collection

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

under my paw

Gift of Marilynn B. Alsdorf, www.artic.edu
You can barely see the mouse under this feline's golden paw, but those who know cats will know that look of open-mouthed triumph.  It's as if the cat was savoring the scent of victory.  When I tell you that this jewel was crafted in Baroque Spain (c. 1575-1625), when that nation was still the leading world power and at a high point of its culture, you can see this cat had something most delicious to symbolize. 
This piece has seen some changes in its time, most readily apparent in its ears.  See the holes?  It had earrings once.  If you'd like to do some art-historical-type digging into the life of this piece, find this:
 -- Ian Wardropper et al, "Renaissance Jewelry in the Alsdorf Collection," The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 25, 2 (2000), p. 69 and 96, no. 32.  I have a link here, all text.

Monday, January 07, 2019

bird bar

Purchase, Judith F. and William H. Hernstadt Gift, 1985
If you were in the market for a bird fountain sometime around 1820-40 in New England, here's one for you.  Made of blown glass, it measures all of 5.25 x 3.25 inches, including the bird figure at top; the perfect size for a pet finch's cage, I suppose. This was made by the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company of Sandwich MA.  They are no longer in business, but you can see some of their history and creations at the Sandwich Glass Museum.

Thursday, January 03, 2019


flickr, no known copyright
The holidays are over.  In January's chill, the scene at the Museum is basically this without the artistic embellishments of 1874: older dog relaxing, cats wondering what they can get into.  Have a closer look:

If you're curious, here's how this looks on the book page.  You may notice that this is one of those books of "improving" poetry of which the 19th century was so fond, which I think rolls over into the slightly grim feel of the illustrations: a sly kitty, heavy funereal-looking wreaths.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

a new take on chasing a dog

In which the English cleric and wit Sydney Smith finds himself at Sir Edwin Landseer's studio chasing down a dog in the oddest way...
* * *
Sydney Smith was once visiting the Landseer studio, and his eye chanced to light on the picture of a very peculiar-looking dog.
“Yes, it's a queer picture of a queer dog. The drawing is bad enough, and never pleased me!” And Landseer picked up the picture and gave it a toss out of the window. “You may have it if you care to go get it,” he carelessly remarked to the visitor. Smith made haste to run downstairs and out of the house to secure his prize. He found it lodged in the branches of a tree.
In telling the tale years afterward, Smith remarked that, whereas many men had climbed trees to evade dogs, yet he alone of all men had once climbed a tree to secure one.

-- from Hubbard, Elbert, 1856-1915. Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Painters. Miriam ed East Aurora, N.Y.: The Roycrofters, 1911-12. p, 123-4.