Friday, September 30, 2011

Man's Best Friend

It was while reading a book recently (or was it a blog?) that I first came across the image of the Meissen Bolognese Dog, above. (For the life of me, I can't remember in which book I first saw the dog.) Anyway, I later discovered that the dog, or a similar one, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Modeled by Johann Gottlieb Kirchner around 1733, the porcelain figure is really very striking and fascinating too. I admit that it's a little odd that such a gnarly and rather ferocious looking dog could capture my attention.

Certainly, he (or possibly she?) is not as handsome as a proper English Staffordshire spaniel nor as refined as a Meissen pug. But isn't that the beauty of the dog? His pedigree is a little questionable yes, but that lack of provenance doesn't make him any less attractive in my eyes. In fact, his mutt-ish appearance is what I find so intriguing. And you know what they say about mutts- they make the best dogs. (Sorry, Alfie.)

Yes, there are a lot of pretty porcelain puppies out there, but I think it's time to give a less-fortunate looking one a good home.

Figure of a dog, painted Porcelain, Chinese, c. 18th c., collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum

Figure of a dog, glazed porcelain, Chinese, c. 1662-1722, collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum

Porcelain dog, Chinese, c. 1750-70, collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dog, Chinese, c. 18th c., collection of Les Arts Decoratifs

A pair of Chinese Export dogs, c. 1780-90, available through George Subkoff Antiques.

Chinese Export dogs, one with a puppy on its back, c. 1850, available through Kentshire Galleries.


  1. This really made me laugh. I think children would be terrified of them and they could be relied upon to guard other precious pieces. I love the coloration of the first dog but it might just be too cruel to own such a thing with little children at home.

  2. Mutts DO make the best dogs, often the smartest and the healthiest. I hope your readers will remember that when considering a pet (cats too) and adopt from your local shelter. Loved the porcelain.

  3. These are perfect--I like all my art(even the cute, decorative kind) to have some edge to it. The Meissen piece reminds me in its attitude of some Chinese tomb-guarding figures.

    My favorite is the pair of dogs with the green collars; they seem to have such a mocking, sarcastic expression.
    --Road to Parnassus

  4. Soo interesting! Do Foo Dogs count (from the Chinese, also)? Loved the images.

  5. The pair with the green collars do indeed look like they're mocking somebody. They're a little bit haughty, which I rather like.

  6. I really try not to regret the things that I don't buy when we travel. Everything happens for a reason and wow does it get painful to pay those surplus baggage fees. But the pair of soulful Foo dogs at the market in Chengdu for what? $70? I'm an idiot. They were real and that will never happen again!

  7. Provence- I too have experienced that kind of regret- once at not buying a Coromandel screen that cost next to nothing, and another at not accepting a gift of a new MaxMara coat from my mother!

  8. I'm a dog lover, too. Favorites: anything Chinese, French or Meissen. Or 19th c. dog portraits. But Alfie (and Jones by extension) is definitely more beautiful than porcelains. Fun post. Mary

  9. Makes me wonder the inspiration of some of these figures, because I have not seen dogs that look like any of those statues!