On a recent visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, I was drawn to two delightful American paintings featuring (what else?) dogs. Created 225 years apart, one is a double portrait of two girls (and a dog) by the Neoclassical master John Singleton Copley; the other is also a double portrait (of the artist’s wife and their dog) by Scott Prior, a contemporary photo realist painter from Northampton.
Copley’s Mary and Elizabeth Royall (c. 1758, oil, 57-3/8’ x 48-1/8”) pictures the beautiful young daughters of a wealthy colonial merchant, Isaac Royall, Jr. The painting’s formal composition includes an elfin Cavalier King Charles spaniel nestled in the billowing folds of Elizabeth’s silk dress. The dog gazes up with the puppy-eyed devotion synonymous with the breed. Or, perhaps his plaintive expression beseeches the girl: “Please, get rid of the itchy flower garland around my neck!” Continue reading “Hounds and Gowns at the MFA”