Category Archives: Dog Related

‘My Model of a Dog’: James Yates Carrington and Teufel the Terrier

When studying the role of the dog in Victorian art it is quite common to encounter little anecdotes and stories pertaining to an artist’s experiences, either with their own dog or a canine sitter of notable character. However none have come to be quite as distinct to me as those of James Yates Carrington and his companion, Teufel the terrier.


James Yates Carrington and Teufel.

In 1886 the Pall Mall Gazette ran a feature titled ‘An Animal Painter and His Models’ in which they explored the story behind ‘the fisher-dog’ that had gained popularity in the print market (after the original three paintings had been displayed on the line the Royal Academy in 1883, also receiving popular favour).[i]


Sport by Proxy.

‘Every one has seen in the print shops the three tableaux of the dog turned fisherman, called “Sport by Proxy” ’, the paper observed, ‘showing a fine fox terrier (with a bit of bull in him) sitting by the riverbank’. Another three tableaux, noted to also be ‘on the line’ in the Academy during their 1885 exhibition were also expected to be equally popular.[ii]

The dog occupying these images was Carrington’s terrier Teufel, and the popularity of both artist and terrier rose significantly from that point onwards.

In fact Teufel gained such attention that his escapades were regularly published in the Pall Mall Gazette (and other newspapers, which reproduced the articles with Carrington’s permission)[iii] and Carrington even endeavoured to write his own biography of Teufel’s life. The resulting book was titled Teufel the Terrier.

While Carrington himself had preferred the titles ’My Model of a Dog’ or ‘Teufel the Fox Terrier with a Bit of Bull in Him’ its final title was chosen for its three T’s, which had a jingle to them that was designed to attract readers with its alliteration. ‘Poor Teuf!’, Carrington lamented in the first chapter of the book, ‘that I should have sacrificed thee in the cause of alliteration and a good line for the cover!’.[iv]

Teufel the Terrier went on to be immensely popular and enjoyed multiple print runs. Some of the editions were meant as a luxury—bound in ‘handsome and substantial form and printed on specifically made paper’[v] as a Christmas present—whereas others became accessible for as little as one shilling.


In addition to recounting tales from the life of Teufel, Carrington also used this book as an opportunity to provide the public with insights into how he worked and what the life of an animal painter might be like. Interestingly, in one encounter, with two potential American buyers, he listed the prices of two of his works as £40 and £150[vi] (higher than the prices of other popular canine artists of the time, such as Charles Burton Barber).

Yet, had it not been for Teufel, James Yates Carrington may have never received the praise and public attention that be managed to muster at the time. This is something that Carrington himself admits in his canine biography.

Born in April 1857, at Heathfield, Stockport, James Yates Carrington was the fourth son of Mr. Samuel Ratcliffe Carrington (the head of a firm of Stockport hat manufacturers). Carrington received his first lesson in painting from Mr. J.H.E. Partington and went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. However, at the time of purchasing Teufel Carrington was not an animal painter at all and, instead, had tried to establish himself as a landscape painter.

Still, upon receiving Teufel Carrington’s artistic attentions started to shift and he found himself more and more invested in depicting his faithful companion Teufel. In an obituary for Carrington the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser notes that this was a turning point for Carrington’s career as ‘when about to relinquish art he began the series of “Teufel” pictures, now known throughout the world’. [vii]

In his own recollection Carrington also highlights his decision:

‘One night as I was smoking my pipe I reflected as follows, addressing my remarks to Teufel: “Why should I waste my substance any longer in painting umbrageous landscapes, and bosky dells, and golden commons? The public don’t want them—that is very evident—and there are hundreds of fellows who are attending to the same departments of Nature. I will go in for dogs; and Teufel, my lad, thou shalt earn thy living’.[viii]

Whether or not Carrington was truly so close to forsaking the arts altogether is not entirely certain; such a story makes for a good tale but it pays to be sceptical of such neat narratives. However, what cannot be denied is the significance that Teufel had in this decision and the success that came from it.


Teufel sitting for his portrait.

Through a shrewd business decision, a love of his dog, or (most likely) both Carrington defined his career that day, all on the basis of his interactions with his own canine companion. As as result Carrington’s career acts as a significant case study for the developing human/canine relations of the Victorian period; demonstrating a beneficial relationship between artist and dog, the dialogue of which became manifest through Carrington’s many artworks.

Indeed when talking of Carrington in 1886 the Pall Mall Gazette makes note that Carrington accredited ‘much of his good fortune to his dog Teufel, who gave him his ideas, and was also the model, for it is a lifelike portrait of his excellent fox terrier which now adorns the walls of hundreds of the houses of sporting men’.[ix]

Carrington’s own accounts of Teufel also indicate that his relationship with Teufel was a sincere and deeply caring one. Despite being named for the German word for devil (owing to his initial mischievous nature) Carrington speaks fondly of ‘Teuf’ throughout his canine biography.

In his book there are also multiple references to the idea that Teufel wasn’t simply owned by an artist but was also initiated into the arts himself. During his devilish days, when first introduced to Carrington’s studio, there is one recollection in which Teufel had escaped another attempt to restrain him and had devoured many of Carrington’s work tools:

‘What a scene of havoc and destruction lay before me!…Another heap further on included a paint-box the lid of which had been torn off. A sheaf of brushes had been chawed up, a bundle of tubes lay scattered about, and the biggest tube, which contained what we call flake-white was munched to pieces…

From that day I have never wondered that Teufel should have taken to the Fine Arts so kindly. After swallowing brushes and tubes, he had no alternative’.[x]

Further accounts in the book go on to describe how Teufel was both artistically inclined and the artistic inspiration for Carrington’s work.

Teufel's first taste of the fine arts.

Teufel’s first taste of the fine arts.

The recollection of ‘Teufel’s First Taste of the Fine Arts’ was also featured in the Graphic in 1891, accompanied with the high praise that ‘Everyone has heard of Teufel—the famous fox-terrier whose physiognomy Mr. Yates Carrington has introduced into so many pictures, and whose premature death caused his artist-master to publish what is perhaps the most elaborate canine biography ever written’.[xi]

Teufel, it seems, also came to be a companion in Carrington’s life when he most needed him, which further validates Carrington’s feelings of Teufel as both subject and artistic companion. This is seen in Carrington’s recollection of an incident where Teufel ran away during the early stages of their relationship:

‘I didn’t tell anyone of my trouble, for I knew they would only laugh at me for grieving about such a trifle as a terrier. But I had got to love the little fellow, having no one else at that tim, and I used to talk to him about Art, and slang the public taste in his presence for declining to recognise the merits of my Munich interiors, my Burnham Beeches all ablaze with colour, or my cattle knee-deep in the liquid Thames.’[xii]

This perceived sharing of the arts between an owner and his dog not only makes for an interesting story today but also seemed to catch the public’s attention at the time, as the popularity of Teufel the Terrier and Carrington’s work demonstrates. In fact in 1891 Carrington was able to run an exhibit of artworks primarily dedicated to Teufel.

Teufel next to some of Carrington's artwork.

Teufel next to some of Carrington’s artwork.

On the topic of the exhibition the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser acknowledged this relationship and its distinctive appeal, noting that:

‘There are many curious accidents in an artist’s life, and the merest chance has discovered the line of art in which excellence is to be obtained. In Mr. Carrington’s case the sudden change from landscape artist to animal painting is peculiar and almost unique. The story is told in the book of Teufel’s life, and to that we must refer our readers. Suffice it to say that the affection and attachment between Mr. Carrington and his dog ripened into a result which has given to the world a charming, almost romantic story and a set of pictures of dog life, unsurpassed by any living animal painter’.[xiii]

As you may have already noticed, it was Teufel’s death that prompted Carrington to publish his book dedicated to the life of his much loved terrier. The passing of Teufel is a further testament to Carrington’s attachment to Teufel and Teufel was buried with the following dedication:


The first part of this epitaph was repeated in the advertisement of Carrington’s Teufel exhibition, further authenticating the importance of Teufel to his owner’s artistic career and life as a whole.

Carrington passed away only a few years later, on Sunday 1st May, 1892 (aged 35). In various obituaries he was remembered for his relationship with Teufel. On the 28th of May the Pall Mall Gazette advertised ‘To Every Lover of a Dog’ the auctioning off of Carrington’s pictures and possessions, as well as the right to rent his studio. The article highlights, in particular, ‘The Strolling Players’—Carrington’s last painting to include Teufel before his passing—which is noted, again, to have hung on the line when exhibited in the Royal Academy.[xiv]

The advertisement for this auction (as well as the quote below) hints at a large body of work, in oils, watercolours, etchings, photographs, sketches, which makes me lament a little at the scarcity of Carrington’s work in museums, auctions, or even in an online search.

‘When I look round my studio to-night, smoking a contemplative pipe for the purpose of inspiring this chapter, I cannot help thinking of what my old dog has done for me…As you come down the fight of steps which leads you into the studio just a glance at the panelled wall on your right. You see Teufel everywhere—Teufel with a pipe in his mouth, with a rod in front of him, with little Dorothy, Teufel in the house boat, Teufel ratting, Teufel watching a beetle crawling on his tail. I quite lose myself in trying to count how many times I painted him’.[xv]

Through the quantity of his work, his own writings, and the accounts of various newspapers, it is undeniable that the influence of Teufel on Carrington’s work was both significant and understood as being observably unique at the time. The relationship the two shared ultimately defined Carrington’s career while simultaneously winning over the public, propagating Teufel’s status as a canine celebrity.

As such we should look to Carrington and his dog Teufel as a notable example of canine/human relationships in the field of Art History; someone who defined his life, his artwork, and the canine art and print market through the inseparable bond he had with his devilish terrier (with a bit of bull in him).

‘Teufel the Terrier is dead, but his fame will live for ever. From the day when, immortalised by the brush of his master, Mr. J. Yates Carrington, he first appeared in the public…he has been the friend of thousands who knew neither his name nor his history. Year after year people used to look for the “fox-terrier with just a touch of the bull in him” on the walls of the Royal Academy…This story of his life is illustrated by capital reproductions of the sketched and finished works which made Teufel known to every lover of dogs in the Kingdom’.[xvi]


[i] ‘Death of Mr. Yates Carrington’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Tuesday 3rd May, 1892.

[ii] ‘An Animal Painter and His Models’, Pall Mall Gazette, Wednesday 26th May, 1886.

[iii] ‘The Story of the Fisher-Dog’, The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Saturday 12th June, 1886.

[iv] J. Yates Carrington & Charles Morley, Teufel the Terrier; Or the Life and Adventures of an Artist’s Dog, 1891, p. 2.

[v] ‘Teufel the Terrier’, Pall Mall Gazette, Tuesday 18th November, 1890.

[vi] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, p. 58.

[vii] ‘Death of Mr. Yates Carrington’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Tuesday 3rd May, 1892.

[viii] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, p. 25.

[ix] ‘An Animal Painter and His Models’, Pall Mall Gazette, 1886.

[x] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, Pp. 7-8.

[xi] ‘Teufel’s First Taste of the Fine Arts’, The Graphic, Saturday 31st January, 1891.

[xii] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, p. 12.

[xiii] ‘Teufel the Terrier’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Friday 16th January 1891.

[xiv] ‘To Every Lover of a Dog; The Late Mr. Yates Carrington’s Pictures’, Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday 28th May 1892.

[xv] Teufel the Terrier, 1891, P.p. 41-43.

[xvi] ‘Christmas Books’, The Graphic, Saturday 20th December, 1890.

PUNCS Conference Talk 2015

PUNCSTalk2015Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of giving a short 10 minute presentation at the inaugural event for PUNCS: Plymouth University Nineteenth Century Studies.

PUNCS is a fantastic new interdisciplinary forum through which researchers working on themes across the globe which speak to the long nineteenth-century can connect and discuss their research. In time PUNCS hopes to foster opportunities for collaboration and this was particularly apparent in the one-day conference event that I attended.

The last panel in particular, which looked prevalently at the methods through which every day offences were reported between 1880 and 1920 demonstrated strong links between people’s research topics as well as the overall potential that collaborative projects hold.

My own talk was titled ‘Canine Character: Reading the Dog in Victorian Visual Culture’ and briefly addressed some research points that have interested me recently. In particular I have been interested in exploring the impact of the dog fancy when it came to canine visuals and the notion of ‘reading’ a show dog for its aesthetic appeal. The impact of this move towards canine connoisseurship, I propose, had significant implications concerning how audiences consequently came to view dogs in imagery. The potential construction of a readable canine physiognomy and/or phrenology and the subsequent implications of such are of a particular interest to me.

The rest of the talks were intellectually rich and impressively diverse, including a talk on the reception of Vasari’s Lives of the Artists in mid-Victorian Britain by Dr. Jenny Graham, a reading of Plymouth’s own Cottonian Collection by PhD researcher Susan Leedham, an exploration into the theme of Mercy by Dr. James Gregory, and some insights into the lives of the working-class female when it came to Mechanics’ Institutes in Victorian Britain by PhD Researcher Doug Watson.

If you would like to know more about PUNCS then I encourage you to go and explore their site. No doubt there will be more engaging events upcoming.


AAH New Voices Conference 2014

aah2014titleTheme: A Picture of Health: Representations and Imaginations of Wellbeing and Illness.

Talk Time: 20 Minutes.

Title: Class Contagions and Canine Culprits: Rapid Representations and the Middle Class Imagination in Victorian Britain.


“in all large towns there are dangerous classes among the dogs as well as among the human population […] whose delight it is to bark and bite in an indiscriminate manner, and who, if they are once affected by the fatal virus, become at once active propagators of it far and wide”

‘Dogs and Dog Law’, All The Year Round, 1886, p. 426.

During the Victorian period rabies (or hydrophobia, as it was known in humans) gained a lot of momentum in the imagination of the public. Media depictions were frequent, laws were passed, and people had many different ideas about what turned a dog mad.

Yet despite public concerns regarding rabies, ‘mad dogs’, and the notorious ‘dog days’ of summer, there were very few incidents of confirmed rabies throughout the period. What, then, caused such avid fear and attention from the Victorian public?

This talk will explore one of the factors.

Looking at imagery representing rabies, this talk will propose that the middle classes feared rabies as more than just a disease. Instead rabies became viewed as a contagion—propagated by the lower and dangerous classes—which had the potential to attack and corrupt the wellbeing of middle class bodies, values and morals.

This middle class imagination, it will be proposed, was reinforced by visual representations of rabies; which served to strengthen notions of mad dogs as violent, law-breaking, and dangerous curs of the streets rather than the afflicted and ailing animals that they were.


The New Police Regulations of Dogs (Detail), The Graphic, 1885, p.697.

The V&A Presents: Paw Prints

Last month, to commemorate the end of Crufts, Cathrin Yarnell decided to showcase some of the V&A’s many dog-related prints, drawings and paintings. Her post, titled ‘Paw Prints‘, can be seen here and I recommend it to avid dog-lovers and canine art appreciators alike.

Personally I was delighted to see that some of the canine motifs that my thesis will cover are presented in this doggy display.

The dog mourner is readily shown with Landseer’s prominent The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner, while the dog as a saviour (in this case of children) is shown through the typically noble Newfoundland in a print simply titled The Newfoundland Dog.

The rising popularity and diligence of dog portraiture is represented readily in the image of Rodney by Byran Edward Duppa. Yarnell is eager to point out that this portrait of Rodney “has been executed with all of the care of a human portrait”, a concept that shall be explored in my own work.

The final print in Yarnell’s post does well to illustrate a range of canine motifs that were popular in Victorian Britain–The dog as saviour (or both man and child), the noble dog of the aristocracy, the dutiful and humble dog of the countryside, and the dog as comfort and aid to beggars, to name a few. It is nice to know that such motifs still capture people’s imagination even today.

Breed Standards Have Gone to the Dogs


While it is outside of my current research scope, some of my readers might be interested in this recent article from the Daily Mail online concerning the differences in pedigree dogs from 1915 to our current canine companions.

The original post that inspired this news can be found on the blog of Mus Musculus, PhD, titled Science of Dogs. He has also since revised that post, adding skull comparisons in addition to photographs.

While the images in the blog post may be disturbing enough for some other bloggers have responded in kind to Musculus’ blog post, by posting some images of their own.

One such blogger is Jemima Harrison, director of the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and owner of a blog of the same name. Looking at both the Daily Mail new report and the original blog posts, Jemima provides further examples of the Basset Hound, the German Shepherd, and the Dachshund in her own post.

While some might find Jemima’s blog to be controversial, the comparisons brought to light (by Musculus’ posts, at least) show the troubling developments that have occurred to the breed standard of some dogs over the past 100 years.

With such issues currently at the forefront of public concern, studies into the development and cultural treatment of the dog throughout history become all the more socially relevant.

In Pictures: Dogs Through the Centuries

If you’re as fascinated by dog-related art as I am then pop over to the Tate Blogs right now where you can find a collection of dog portraiture on display as a slide show.

The blog entry can be found here and features brilliant artworks such as William Hogarth’s The Painter and his Pug, Thomas Gainsborough’s Tristram and Fox, and Sir Edwin Henry Landseer’s Dignity and Impudence.

A particular favourite of mine (besides the obvious Landseer pieces) is William Blake’s Cerberus, depicted in a style that is typically Blake. it is the facial expressions on this hound of hell that has me looking at the artwork with fascination.

A ‘Major’ Discovery


A few days ago the University of Manchester shared the news that UoM historians (the same responsible for the wonderful ‘Breed’ exhibition that I previously wrote about) have discovered the first ‘modern dog’, Major—who supposedly heralded in the practice of judging dog breeds by a physical standard. The article can be found here and is an interesting read.

Whilst people are already questioning whether or not this is really can be considered the first time that a breed standard based on physical traits has been seriously attempted, I’ve decided, instead, to share a few of my own thoughts about this discovery—which is an important one, whether or not it marks the first attempt of such practices—or, to be more accurate, the publication behind this discovery.

Whilst I do not own an extensive collection of ‘The Field’ journal, I did, a few months ago, chance upon a book called ‘Dogs of the British Islands’ at auction, and eagerly purchased it (the 1867 “edited collection” mentioned in the news report). This book is essentially a compilation of the breed standards set by ‘The Field’, accompanied with reader’s responses; providing a wonderful mish-mash of serious attempt to define breed standards and scathing reviews of the dogs chosen to set the standards followed by rebuffs (sometimes from the very owner of the chosen dog). So, what do I think of this compilation of ‘The Field’ and its thoughts?


Naturally, my interest in such publications can be drawn back to my Art Historical roots.

The way that dogs were expected to be judged not only off of the measurements provided in such Journals but off of the illustrations is fascinating to me. Through such processes we see the dog in nineteenth-century British practices not only becoming more regulated and standardized but also, notably, more visual—judged as a aesthetic object in their own right. Through this transition images of dogs became used interchangeably with dogs that were present to be judged on their own merits, causing a fascinating interchangeability when it came to what a dog ‘should’ look like.

This can be observed in ‘The Field’ itself as, when considering the standard of Setters, it was noted that, in order to set a standard of “beauty and excellence” [i]:

“We have carefully criticized the portraits of every celebrated setter whose memory has been perpetuated by the painter, and we have gone as far as the year 1822.” [ii]

Going on to determine that:

 “A careful comparison of these portraits with our recollection of the best models exhibited during the last five years, leads us to the conclusion that if these engravings are faithful representations of the departed setters, we possess dogs far superior to the dogs of our forefathers” [iii]

And, whilst ‘The Field’ was eager to highlight the fallibility of portraiture, claiming that “our critique on the portraits of dogs must scarcely be looked upon as a criticism of the dogs themselves”, it still, regardless, continued to “enumerate the portraits we have seen”—going on to dedicate more than a page to the judgement of dogs in portraiture as if the dogs in the artworks were being shown in front of their very eyes—and even contributed to the propagation of the aesthetic standard of dogs through a heavy use of engravings.[iv]


Although I have come to no solid conclusions concerning the extent to which this practice was prevalent (nor its ultimate significance) I can make one tentative assertion in this early stage of my research. The implications of this, when considering the popularity of dogs in Victorian art, are of great importance, and something I plan to keep at the front of my mind throughout the duration of my research. As such, if Major is considered as the first example of a ‘modern’ dog, through the standards by which he is judged, then ‘The Field’ can be considered as equally significant for developing early examples of the developing aesthetic existence dogs.

The first? I’m not so sure, but worthy of regard none-the-less.

[i] Dogs of the British Islands, p.3.

[ii] Dogs of the British Islands, p.3.

[iii] Dogs of the British Islands, p.3.

[iv] Dogs of the British Islands, pp. 3-4.

2011 Poster Exhibition

When I was still doing my undergraduate degree I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to be part of a poster exhibition arranged by Plymouth University. This poster exhibition was part of a showcase of undergraduate research, and aimed to demonstrate the elements that went into a research project.

My poster in situ.

My poster in situ.

For my poster I chose to highlight the sources which an undergrad might consult as part of their research. The idea of the posters was to keep them short and simple, so my sources took the form of a list.

The final drafts and design of my poster was undertaken by a design student and I was blown away when I saw the final version. I truly am grateful to have been given such an opportunity and to have been able to show how much hard work goes into research (even at undergraduate level).

The Pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain


I am glad to say that, despite my busy research schedule, I (just about) managed to find my way to London for a viewing of Tate Britain’s wonderful exhibition ‘Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde’ before it met its end on the 13th of this month. I am sure the exhibition enjoyed a very popular existence as even my attendance near the end was met with a 2-3hr waiting period after ticket purchase before you could even queue up to get into the exhibition itself! After this period of queuing I, personally, was met with rooms so crowded that it was hard to even get near to the artworks, let alone appreciate them. Despite this, however, the exhibition truly a fantastic, well thought out, and incredibly enjoyable event (If only there were a few less crowds!).

For those interested in the exhibition I recommend the publication that accompanied it, by the same name of ‘Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde’—whilst not the same as actually having seen the exhibition, and the artworks up close, it afford the viewer a generous amount of vivid illustrations, intelligent discourse and space within which to absorb its contents. But, for those who just want the quick-version, I’ll try to summarise. ‘Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde’ sets out to redefine the Pre-Raphaelites in our modern eyes as a radical and self-aware avant-garde movement, as opposed to typical painters of a ‘repressed’ age or mere imitators of the early masters that their namesake alludes to.

In order to achieve this agenda the exhibition guides the viewer through seven themed rooms; titled Origins and manifesto, History, Nature, Salvation, Beauty, Paradise and Mythologies. Each of these rooms demonstrates the main aim of the exhibition through their designated theme and hopes to present the Pre-Raphaelites in a way which the audience had not previously considered. This theme, one can assume, is partially influenced by Victorian stereotypes as they exist within our modern society—as the retail section attached to the exhibition carries books such as ‘Inventing the Victorians’ by Matthew Sweet. Art and other forms of Pre-Raphaelite visual culture merge within this exhibition and everything shown seems perfectly rich, vivid and provocative. If attendance rates and newspaper reviews are of any merit, it seems that the general public have received the exhibitions message fondly.

By far the best exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art I have seen
Jonathan Jones, Guardian

The Pre-Raphaelites are revealed as the cutting edge of art
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Times

Not wanting to go too in-depth into an already well structured and reviewed exhibition I shall, instead, just highlight a few of my personal favourites from the art shown.

 ‘Isabella’ by Sir John Everett Millais[ii]

Elaborated upon in this video clip by the exhibition’s Co-curator Dr. Jason Rosenfeld in a far greater manner than I could articulate, Millais ‘Isabella’ is a true Pre-Raphaelite painting through-and-through, and definitely one of my personal favourites. In particular my mind is (as to be expected) drawn to the dogs within this image. I can’t quite, at this time, puzzle out whether it is the case that, whilst Isabella is “playing it very cool”, the dog that she tries to pet into sedation is a representation of her inner anxieties and the wide-eyed fear that she is trying to repress or whether it is the case that both dogs provide the viewer with further insights into Lornezo—with the dog leaning into her lap being representative of the obsessive, frantic passion that he feels for Isabella and that she is trying to conceal, shown by her attempts to calm the dog, whilst the dog under the chair of Isabella’s brothers represents his coming fate, veiled in shadow as it lays limp and lifeless in the otherwise active scene. Considering the emerging multivalence of the dog within this period I’m inclined to perceive both as valid interpretations for the time being, and these possibilities for the dog’s meaning leave me feeling a similar dynamism to that of the brother’s vigorously thrust-up leg.

This imagery is also another reason why I remember this iconic painting with admiration and humour as, far from the supposed ‘new discovery’ that the media has been proposing, I remember the brother’s ‘shadowy member’ being anecdotally alluded to when I was still an under-grad. Memories such as this, and the brilliance of the work overall, mean that in my eyes this fantastic artwork certainly does rise to the occasion (in more ways than one!).

‘The Order of Release 1746’ by Sir John Everett Millais

Another picture from Millais with a ‘dogged’ presence makes me jokingly wonder whether or not Millais’ artworks may have inspired his son, Everett Millais’, endeavours—as he became a dog breeder, and champion of the Basset hound breed in England from 1874 onwards. The scene depicted is of the release of a Jacobite rebel from prison, subsequent to the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie by the English at Culloden. But, as usual, I place this painting as one of my personal highlights due to its four-legged foregrounder.

In the exhibition catalogue it is said that “The pressure of the dog’s paw on his master’s belt adds another layer of emotion, one worthy of the work of Edwin Landseer, the foremost animal painter of the era and one of Millais’ heroes”, and this praise is certainly warranted in my eyes. Offering support to its master through the previously mentioned paw of solidarity, the Jacobite mongrel (who may owe its scruffy fur to some Scottish deerhound in its ancestry) looks up not to its master but, instead, to the Jacobite’s wife—recognising her position of strength and authority within an otherwise broken and defeated household. Representing the general sign of faithfulness—both in itself and resonating from the wife and mother of this painting—that are quintessentially associated with man’s best friend, this painting allows for an interesting window into the potential of dogs to add to the intended narrative of a Victorian ‘problem painting’.

I also can’t help but note, with interest, that in some of the original sketch works for this piece Millais did not originally envision a mongrel dog but, instead, a greyhound-type breed, as he played around with both the positioning of the dog’s paws and head.


A Sketch for the Order of Release, 1852


A Sketch for the Order of Release, 1852

Whilst simply musings on my part, these sketches can be seen to bring up interesting implications about bot the deliberate nature of the dog’s inclusion in the piece and its importance to the message that the painting wished to portray. Overall this painting offers a fascinating look into Millais work process, scandal aside.

‘Young Romilly’ by Alexander Munro

When I saw this wonderful marble sculpture I practically parted crowds with the enthusiasm that I approached it with! The sculpture was inspired by William Wordsworth’s ‘The Force of Prayer’ (1807) which tells of the foundation of Bolton Priory due to the tragic death of William of Egremont—who fell to his death in the River Wharfe, along with his faithful greyhound.

Following this part of the poem:

“He sprang in glee,—for what cared he

That the river was strong, and the rocks were steep?—

But the greyhound in the leash hung back,

And checked him in his leap,”

The sculpture manages to create a dynamic and almost animate rendition of the scene—where the larger-than-life greyhound snarls its warnings as an extension of the poem’s narrative and the sculpture’s desired recreation of the scene. I would recommend anyone who find the link to this image compelling to go and see it in person, as the photograph given really cannot do justice to the skill of this wonderful sculpture. It’s certainly a favourite of mine.

‘Work’ by Ford Madox Brown

I’ll allow the great Tim Barringer to explain this artwork, one of my all-time favourites, and simply say for now that, no matter how much I look at this painting, I always find something new to love about ‘Work’ when I go and view it. Barringer points out the dogs which, of course, are an interest of mine! But, I’m afraid, I will leave any analysis of these notable canines for now, as I shall (no doubt) be bringing them up in another blog post.

So those were my personal highlights. There are, of course, many other wonderful artworks that were part of this exhibition—I will always marvel at the beauty of works such as Rosetti’s ‘Lady Lilith’, or Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ or ‘Mariana’, and paintings such as Hunt’s ‘The Awakening Conscience’ and ‘Our English Coasts’ are some of the first that provoked me to think about the role of the animal in Victorian art—but those are, perhaps, best left for you to explore, my dear readers, if you are as captivated by the works of the Pre-Raphaelites as myself.

Until then I wish you all the best, and hope that you have enjoyed at least some of my ramblings!    






[vi] Barringer, T., Rosenfeld, J. & Smith, Alison, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, Tate Publishing, 2012, P. 64.

[vii] With credit to George P. Landow,

[viii] With credit to George P. Landow,


[x] Barringer, T., Rosenfeld, J. & Smith, Alison, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, Tate Publishing, 2012, P. 112.

‘Breed’ Sets the Standard


Thoughts on ‘Breed: The British & their Dogs’

Walking through to the main entrance of the Manchester Museum as it stands today, one could not possibly miss the recently opened exhibition ‘Breed: The British & their Dogs’, as it’s wonderful entrance wall—adorned with black & white photography of man’s best friend, welcoming dog lovers and curious passers-by alike through its inviting archway.

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