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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, March 18, 2014

a self-assured dog and master

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program
This is John Whetham of Kirklington, by the great British painter Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797). The year is 1779-80, and Whetham's having a bit of fun with having his portrait painted.  It seems his bright outfit is a fancy-dress adaptation of Hungarian military garb (here's what the Getty has to say about it). But when you're a gentleman landowner, you know you can pretty much do as you like, and that's a sort of confidence that spills over even onto your loyal collie.  I'm delighted by the dog's draped paw and relaxed gaze as he basks in the glow of his master.  Though personally I feel Whetham could stand to do some basking in his handsome dog's glory, in turn.
Wright of Derby is famed as one of the artists whose work best captured the spirit of the British Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment.  Though that inquiring spirit led some British scientists to animal experimentation, an activity to which I strongly object, I find it hard to believe that Wright was untouched by the sensibility animals show. While it's true that an adoring dog is an expected part of a grand man's trappings, these fellows have a warmth and ease in their togetherness that Wright wouldn't invent.

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