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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 !

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

blending in, 1779

https://collections.artsmia.org, william hoood dunwoody fund  (public domain)
Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1838) is best known for this portrait of George Washington.  That work is only one among the 1,000-plus portraits he executed in his career (and he still managed to leave his family in poverty).  This work, "Portrait of James Ward," was done in London, where he worked from 1775 to 1787.  Since the posing here is very like those in court and nobility portraits by Van Dyck, I thought perhaps James Ward might be an aristocrat's son or someone of similar standing, but that remains unknown.
Look how his dog blends into the backing landscape.  I think perhaps he may be a poodle, one bred for the hunt, as poodles are superb waterfowl dogs.  Everything here is a muted, brownish shade until you get to the boy's dazzling face, hair, and framing collar.  You could be forgiven for thinking of the dog as window dressing, but Stuart has shown such a look of shining adoration on his face as he looks up at his boy.

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