Animal Magic

Where would we be without our animal companions? When looking at art in galleries, stately homes and museums around the country, we often happen upon portraits of the great, the good (and not so good) portrayed with their canine companions. Symbols of loyalty, unwavering devotion, fidelity and guidance, we have spotted dogs of all sizes and many breeds, often seen gazing adoringly at their owners. Spaniels, whippets and terriers seem popular.

We’ve also seen cats, squirrels, rabbits, goats and sheep. There are, however, a few instances of more unusual familiars appearing in these Old Masters. For example, the charming Parrot seen in Reynolds’ portrait of Lady Cockburn or the little marmoset monkey sitting in a family portrait by the Master of the Countess of Warwick. We are always on the look out for the more unusual pets in art, have you seen an Armadillo or a Crocodile perhaps?

1) William Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham and his family (Master of the Countess of Warwick, Longleat)
2) Isabella Saltonstall as Una (George Stubbs, Fitzwilliam)
3) Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons (Joshua Reynolds, National Gallery)
4) Mrs Worrell as Hebe (Benjamin West, Tate Britain)
5) Girl with cat (Mary Beale, Moyse’s Hall Museum)
6) Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (Hans Holbein, National Gallery)
7) Sophia Dumergue (Johann Zoffany, Victoria Art Gallery)
8) James I (Rowland Lockey)
9) Lady Mary Leslie (Joshua Reynolds, Kenwood House)