Artists have drawn, painted, sculpted – and even preserved via taxidermy – their or their patrons’ pet dogs since time immemorial, celebrating the unique bond between humans and their canine companions.
Nissen Richards Studio worked with long-term client The Wallace Collection on a carefully-selected display of artworks, celebrating dogs and our relationship with them in a new, temporary exhibition for The Wallace Collection– Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney – featuring 59 individual works of art.
Dog portraiture is an age-old tradition, developing contemporaneously with its human counterpart and seen from the first cave paintings onwards. In Britain in particular, dog portraiture flourished from the seventeenth century onwards, with the British displaying a particular fondness both for dogs and their representation.
The 59 works of art in the show range from the grand to the humourous and depict dogs in all shapes and sizes, displaying a brilliant range of characterisation, from Roman greyhound sculptures to a Leonardo da Vinci metalpoint focusing on the precise anatomy of a dog’s forepaw. An entire mini roomset, meanwhile, has also been given over to six paintings by David Hockney of his two dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie, with Hockney also loaning a sketchbook to the exhibition.
Nissen Richards Studio’s design approach was to treat the portraits as if of people, giving each one significant space and appropriate grandeur, so that the personality of each sitter, as well as the differing approaches of each artist, is afforded due consideration. The grand setting, which includes a bold, dark ‘Old Masters’ palette and jewel-toned silk fabric settings within each highlight showcase, is comprised of a series of sequential room-sets featuring two setworks walls and a number of new aligned arches that optimise views and create a sense of architectural rigour and glimpsed anticipation.
The Wallace Collection
photography Gareth Gardner