In part 2 of the series on “Dogs in art” we will be taking a look at some Canadian artists’ work.
A couple of years ago, we visited Victoria on Vancouver Island and came across a Robert Bateman exhibition. Being a dog lover, Bateman had taken the opportunity to paint his son’s dog, River whilst on a visit to the east coast. Alan Bateman, Robert’s son, lives in Nova Scotia in a 200 year old farmhouse and always celebrates Christmas traditions over Yuletide. All good things must come to an end and his dog, River, is checking out what’s happening outside now that the Christmas tree has been taken down.
Alex Colville was a dog lover who painted a number of pictures depicting dogs, including “Dog, Boy, and St. John River”, “Dog and Priest” and “Woman and Terrier”. However, the painting “Dog and Bridge” became his most recognized work when, on July 15 2020, his 1976 work was sold for a Colville record $2 million. “Dog and Bridge” was one of many paintings Colville made featuring bridges, naturally enough, as his father worked for a company that made bridges. Beyond the familial connection, the complex network of steel lines obviously appealed to an artist for whom geometry was an underlying obsession.
Ashevak is perhaps the best-known Inuit artist because of her famous print “The Enchanted Owl’ (1960), which was featured on a Canada Post stamp. She was also the first woman to become involved with the newly established printmaking shop at Cape Dorset. Ashevak created the image for this print by cutting shapes out of leftover pieces of sealskin to create a stencil. She then used a brush loaded with pigment to fill in the empty shapes.
This work illustrates an Inuit belief that was part of her upbringing. This belief suggests that when dogs bark and there is no sign of a predator, the dogs are barking at tuurngait, or spirits. Here the tuurngait appear in the form of a hare, two loons, and a bird.
Horvat was born on Prince Edward Island and called herself an island girl despite moving to Ontario as a young adult.
In her words she “was attracted to subjects that have a history to them; everyday objects from the past that have a story behind them, even if that story is not fully told, they have existed and touched the lives of people over many decades.”
“Snow Dog” was painted as “these sled dogs just love to run and I thought the expression on this guy’s face reflected that joy.”
I hope you enjoyed this brief foray into the world of dog art. Of all the dog pictures out there, you will likely find one of more that really resonate with you.