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11 Most Famous Dog Paintings (With Pictures)

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

Dog Painting

The bond between humans and dogs has been strong for thousands of years. Many artists have chosen to exemplify this bond through their art. Some of this art has become some of the world’s most well-known and recognizable art. Many artists seek out muses for their art, but some artists find their muse sleeping right at their feet. To celebrate the bond that humans and dogs share, we’ve sniffed out the most famous dog-centric paintings for you.Divider 3

The 11 Most Famous Dog Paintings

1. Cave Canem Mosaic

Casa_del_poeta_tragico,_mosaico_del_cave_canem (Image Credit: Sailko, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Unknown
Production Year: 2nd-century BCE

Okay, so this one isn’t really a painting, but it is a fantastic way of seeing just how important the relationship humans have with dogs has been across the centuries. Cave Canem translates to “beware of dog,” and these mosaics were placed at the entrances to homes across ancient Rome. The most well-known Cave Canem mosaic is still viewable today. It was originally located at the House of the Tragic Poet entrance in Pompeii, Italy.

While these mosaics were used to indicate that a guard dog was on the premises, many people also believe that these were sometimes placed to alert visitors to the presence of small and delicate dogs that might be injured if stepped on.

2. A Friend in Need

A Friend in Need 1903 C.M.Coolidge
A Friend in Need, 1903 (Image Credit: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
Production Year: 1903

You have almost certainly seen this painting before, but you may have seen it referred to as Dogs Playing Poker. While this is what the painting shows, what’s happening in the foreground is the intended focus.

In the foreground of the painting, one dog is passing a card between his toes to the dog sitting next to them, presumably in an attempt to cheat and help them both win. It’s a humorous image that is one of the most prominent and recognizable pieces of dog art in existence.

3. Arearea

Arearea (Image Credit: Paul Gauguin, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Paul Gauguin
Production Year: 1892

Arearea is one of the multiple paintings created by Paul Gauguin following a trip to Tahiti in 1891. In this painting, Gauguin combined elements of reality and fantasy to create a world all his own without losing the way of life he witnessed in Tahiti.

In the foreground of this painting stands a large, red dog. This painting and the exhibition it was part of were not well received by the public, though, and many people were especially harsh on Gauguin’s representation of the dog. However, he considered it his finest work, even going so far as to repurchase this painting for himself in 1895.

4. Portrait of Maurice

Portrait of Maurice - Andy Warhol - 1976
Portrait of Maurice, 1976: Image Credit: Andy Warhol, Wikiart. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.
Artist: Andy Warhol
Production Year: 1976

Andy Warhol’s art style is unmistakable for its pop-art style, and the painting Portrait of Maurice is no exception. Although Warhol was primarily known for creating art of celebrities and identifiable products, he would also take commissions. This painting was one such commission, with Maurice being the beloved Dachshund of Gabrielle Keiller.

Although painted from Polaroid pictures of Maurice in 1976, this painting stayed in Keiller’s private collection until 1995, when she donated her art collection to the National Galleries Scotland. This painting of Maurice was the first work of Warhol’s to make its way into the galleries.

5. A Jack in Office

Sir Edwin Landseer -A Jack In Office
A Jack In Office (Image Credit: Sir Edwin Landseer, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Edwin Henry Landseer
Production Year: 1833

This painting features humorous and political elements, creating a story all its own. The title of this painting used to also be slang terminology for an ineffective and pompous government official.

In the painting, a fat and decorated Jack Russell Terrier sits on a table while other dogs around them are clearly starving and stressed. The dichotomy of the fat dog who eats too much and the thin dogs who have had far too little is distinct, making this painting quite successful at exemplifying the dangers of having a Jack in the office.

6. Head of a Dog

Dog's Head - Edvard Munch
Dog’s Head (Image Credit: Edvard Munch, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Edvard Munch
Production Year: 1930

This painting features a cartoonish but stern-looking dog, drawn in the unmistakable style of Edvard Munch, painter of The Scream. It should not be confused with another painting of the same name, painted by French painter Edouard Manet.

After the passing of both his mother and sister, Munch looked for ways to process and work through his grief. He found painting dogs to be one of the things that helped him the most, leading to the development of this painting. Although this dog was one of Munch’s own dogs, the name and breed of the dog are unknown.

7. A Couple of Foxhounds

Stubbs, George, 1724-1806; A Couple of Foxhounds
A Couple of Foxhounds (Image Credit: George Stubbs, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: George Stubbs
Production Year: 1792

Fox hunting was a favorite pastime in England during the 18th century, and this painting by George Stubbs exemplifies the most popular breed used for fox hunts. The Foxhound is a breed that was, as its name implies, bred specifically for fox hunting.

This painting shows two beautiful Foxhounds, a male and female, both of which appear to be well-fed and healthy. This painting is a beautiful mix of balance and neutrality, drawing the viewer’s eye to the dogs in the foreground but not pulling attention away from the attractive landscape background.

8. The Dog

Dog (Image Credit: Francisco Goya, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Francisco Goya
Production Year: c. 1819–1823

The Dog was a painting done by Francisco Goya sometime between 1819–1823. The reason that the date of this painting is unknown is that Goya painted it directly onto the walls of his home.

This painting represents one of Goya’s black period paintings, which were painted for his own personal enjoyment while he was an elderly man living alone and suffering from multiple physical and psychological ailments. This painting is simple but adorable, and it is no doubt something that many of us would love to have on the wall of our own homes.

9. Diogenes

Jean-Léon Gérôme - Diogenes
Diogenes (Image Credit: Jean-Léon Gérôme, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Jean-Léon Gérôme
Production Year: 1860

In this painting, the famed Greek philosopher, Diogenes, is seen sitting in his home in a large earthenware tub or pot. The story goes that Diogenes was to use a lit lamp to help him find an honest man, and he is lighting this lamp in the painting.

While lighting his lamp, Diogenes is surrounded by a group of healthy and happy-looking dogs that are clearly interested in what he is doing. In this painting, the dogs serve as a symbol of Diogenes’ “Cynic” philosophy that focuses on living a life of austerity.

10. Suspense

Charles Burton Barber, Suspense
Suspense (Image Credit: Charles Burton Barber, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Artist: Charles Burton Barber
Production Year: 1894

Suspense may not be a painting name you’re familiar with, but you’ve almost certainly seen this one before. This precious painting depicts a young girl praying over her food in bed. While she prays, her dog, which appears to be a Jack Russell Terrier, and her kitten both look longingly at her food.

You can almost feel the tension when looking at this painting because Barber made it very clear that the animals were anxiously awaiting a taste of the girl’s food, but they’re polite enough to wait until she finishes her prayer and offers it to them.

11. At the Vets

At The Vets - Norman Rockwell
At The Vets – Image Credit: Norman Rockwell, originally published by The Saturday Evening Post. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.
Artist: Norman Rockwell
Production Year: 1952

Norman Rockwell is a beloved American artist who often showed the relationship between children and their pets in his work, as well as showing humorous scenes of everyday life and beautiful landscapes that represent America.

One painting of Rockwell’s that most people are familiar with is this adorable painting of a young boy and his injured puppy sitting in the waiting room of the vet clinic. They are surrounded by adults with their dogs, making both the boy and the puppy appear even smaller.

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Art has continually proven itself to be a successful way of solidifying the importance of something for generations to come, and the relationship that humans and dogs share is no exception. From the Cave Canem mosaics to more modern artwork, artists are constantly finding new and inventive ways to include dogs in artwork, exemplifying the importance of dogs as muses.

See Also: 

Featured Image Credit: Rinaldo Imperiale, Pixabay

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