Contextual Study for Assignment 5


‘Prehistoric cave paintings rarely depict wolves or other carnivores. This watercolor tracing of a cave painting was made by the archaeologist Abbé Henri Breuil in the early 1900s from the Grotte de Font-de-Gaume in France. The 17,000-year-old cave paintings number about 250 and mostly show bison and mammoths—only one is thought to be a wolf. Canids may have been domesticated by this point; it is possible that portraying wolves and humans was taboo’. Paul Bahn

Cave paintings are always a good place to start when tackling a whistle stop history of art. Apparently there are few depiction’s of wolfs with men in cave art. Although it is thought wolves and men became allies at this early stage in both creatures development.

There is also a school of thought that suggests dogs are still wolfs really as the two sub-speeches can interbreed successfully.

Whilst hunting for cave representation I stumbled across the below whimsical paintings of galloping Dachshunds. Two amusing not add in the blog I think.

Picture 7

‘Cave Dog I’ Watercolor, Charcoal, Coffee, 4″ x 6″, 2005

Picture 6

Herd of Cave Dogs, Watercolor, Charcoal, Coffee on hand-made Indian watercolor paper , 9.5″ x 12.5″2005

Moving on just a little bit.. Here is a mosaic from the first century showing a domestic dog. Dogs also crop up in a lot of ancient Greek art. Often depicted with hunters.

Picture 10

Dog on a leash, from Pompeii (mosaic) Roman, (1st century AD)

Picture 14

Greyhound, c.1500-01 (ink on paper) Dürer, Albrecht (1471-1528)

Albrecht Durer the German renascence master of drawing left behind many exquisite animal etchings. Here we see a greyhound with form depicted by directional hatching around the muscular and skeletal volumes.

Picture 11

Raphael and Tobias, 1507-8 (oil on panel) Titian, Tiziano Vecelli (c.1488-1576) (follower)

The dog in Titains painting plays a small but significant role. Highlighting for me mans reliance on animals firstly to carry out duties humans are unable or are unwilling to perform but secondly  for companionship that the dog is now synonymous with.

Picture 6

Arearea (The Red Dog), 1892 (oil on canvas) Gauguin, Paul (1848-1903)

Perhaps the orange dog sniffing around in Gauguin’s painting is a representation of himself in relation to the two exotic beauties! I don’t know. The language of colour in this painting speaks of heat, sweat and a heady night to follow.

Picture 7

Dynamism of a Dog on a Lead, 1912, Balla, Giacomo (1871-1958)

Like his contemporary Futurist Giacomo was interested in movement and how you might capture that in a still image. Although the Futurist predominately chose modern mechanical modes of transport as there motif I like how Giacomo must have been so fascinated by the kinetic energy exuded by this busily little character he felt compelled to portray it. I especially like how he shows the chains velocity as it glints in the light. a fantastic representation of a fleeting vision.

In the future I hope to conduct my own investigation into the capabilities for representing movement of an animal on canvas. For drawing one however I have focussed on getting to grips with the form and subject of dog.

Picture 15

‘Bouboule’, the bulldog of Madame Palmyre at La Souris, 1897 (oil on cardboard) (b/w photo) Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri de (1864-1901)


Picture 9

Sympathy, 1877 (oil on canvas) Riviere, Briton (1840-1920)


Working concurrently in time to the modern movements represented by the two above paintings I find the English artist Riviere Briton showing us Victorian England favoured a more traditional style to the wild men of the content. Although hugely out of favour (I can see art establishment people recoiling in horror at the sentimentality oozing form this painting.) I have to say I have fallen for the carpet. I wonder if a tool such as a camera obscurer (as mentioned in Hackneys eye opening book ‘ Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the lost Techniques of the Old Masters’) was used to get the pattern so accurate in its depiction of perspective? The mustered colour is mouth watering. I’d love to try a modern take on this. Making it a bit more edge and painterly maybe. Who no’s perhaps another approach for future artist endeavours. Have to improve the skills a lot more first.

Picture 12

Portrait of the Marchesa Luisa Casati with a greyhound, 1908 (oil on canvas) Boldini, Giovanni (1842-1931)

Couldn’t resist adding this one. I love the bold use of black, A tricky tone to work with in my opinion. The painting although highly figurative has an energy of line and brush stroke that gives a dynamism tot he painting. I even like her strange mannerist arm and hand. the dog is as greyhound always are, elegant and beautiful mirroring her mistress. The artist has  done well wit the tricky view point of the dog. The painting almost has two perspectives with the eye level parallel wit the eye level of  Marchesa Luisa Casati then a looking down view point with the dog.

I am noticing grey hound type dogs crop up a lot in art. I think its because you can see nearly every bone and muscle making them very appealing to the artists anatomical curiosities.


Picture 13

Lurcher Sitting, 1988 (charcoal and w/c on paper) Willis, Lucy (Contemporary Artist)

This quick sketch predominately in watercolor shows an honest response to the lurcher that has a cave painting style simplicity. Although just a two toned blurred shape it is all the info we need to tell the speeches, the bread, what its doing and even a little of the caricature of the dog. It reminds me of Gwen Johns unpretentious cat drawings in water colour.


Cat Grooming itself, Gwen John (1876-1936)

For many more of Gwen John’s cats please  click here



‘Hondje op tafeltje IV’ 50.0 x 50.0 cm – Oil on panel – 2009 – Pieter Pander


‘Windhondje op tafeltje I’ 50.0 x 50.0 cm – Oil on panel – 2009 , Piete Pander


‘Windhondje op tafeltje III’ 50.0 x 35.0 cm – Oil on panel – 2009 , Pieter Pander


‘Windhondje op tafeltje II’ 50.0 x 50.0 cm – Oil on panel – 2009, Pieter Pander


“Every creature has its own ‘portrait’, its own expression and movement”, Pieter Pander

This stunning series of a little Italian grey hound is by Dutch artist Pieter Pander  who paints living (and some times dead) subjects. In all his paintings he shows us something beyond a faithful representation of the form. I suppose this is what my tutor ment by trying to avoid ‘prettifying’ the subject.

With this mini greyhound The artist seems to focus of the vulnerability and fragility of the little dog. Although his paintings are painted in a traditional classical manor the subject of his work can get quite dark and often there is a feeling of uncomfortable viewing with his work. The movement he speaks of as the motivating force behind his work seems only to occupy a subtle presence in the paintings. Perhaps we are presented with a fleeting pose such as in theses ones rather than a blur suggestion of movement that does also occur in some of his paintings indicating the movement of a limb say.

He is a highly skilled painter who uses a sombre pallet to capture form with light touch. As for his chose of subject even with this subject of this cute little dog awww is not the first reaction. Personally my first feeling is concern for the dog. It looks quite vulnerable  and fragile. I want to rescue it from the table top.

I’m glad I found this artist. He is an exquisitely skilled painter who also demonstrates that ‘something extra’ in his work that I have been discussing with my tutor. Certainly an artist I will return to when I’m on the painting module.





About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter

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