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National Dog Appreciation Day—August 26

The Art of Stephen Huneck
Arty DogsFounded in 2004, by author Collen Paige, Dog Appreciation Day heralds the contributions made by dogs throughout society. Dog Home Magazine the official magazine of the Animal Miracle Foundation & Network (AMFN) has a twofold mission to honor dogs and to rescue dogs from shelters. AMFN encourages readers to donate $5.00 and hold local events in support of their local shelters while spotlighting individual dogs up for adoption.

From cave paintings to modern video artists have been inspired by dogs and illustrated their gratitude through all artistic medium. The Smithsonian American Art/National Portrait Gallery Library holds monographs on the subject of dogs in art. The following are some of the library’s holdings, with descriptions.

Arty Dogs, written by David Baird and illustrated by Maurice Broughton is essentially a series of ‘shaggy dog stories’, a tome to famous paintings with a dog as central to the narrative. From old masters to modern artists the author and illustrator make a hilarious read. John Singer Sargent’s painting of Madame X becomes the commissioned painting of the elaborately groomed black poodle owned by Madame X. The psychedelic prints of celebrities by Andy Warhol are reworked as initially inspired by the Cocker Spaniel pet of a visiting friend while ‘chilling out with the help of a pair 3-D glasses’.

Arty Dogs, text by David Baird, illustrated by Maurice Broughton, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, NY, 1999, N7668D6B351999

Published in 2004, The Art of Stephen Huneck, by Laura Beach interprets the work of recently deceased artist Stephen Huneck who shunned labels and worked mostly in wood to produce uplifting sculptures and furniture in a folk style. A severely dyslexic artist, Huneck was raised in Massachusetts and left home at age seventeen. Early in his life he worked as an antiques dealer and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Art. He eschewed the formality of traditional art and whittled large wooden pieces wryly commenting on modern culture. In 1997, he commenced work on this famous Dog Chapel modeled after nineteenth century New England churches. He completed the chapel in 2000, crowning the steeple with a winged black Labrador Retriever. The sign at the entrance to the chapel states ‘WELCOME ALL CREEDS ALL BREEDS NO DOGMAS ALLOWED’. Huneck also wrote and illustrated a series of books based on Sally his back Labrador. Early this year, he committed suicide outside his psychiatrist’s office a few days after laying off most of the staff in an economic downturn. He is survived by his wife who hopes to keep Dog Mountain and Dog Chapel open in his memory.

The Art of Stephen Huneck, Laura Beach, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2004, N6537.H78B432004

Dog – A Dog’s Life in Art and Literature (image). Dog, by Iain Zaczek categorizes dogs throughout historical literature and illustration. Chapters trace such uses of dogs for various duties such as: sport, illustrated by works such as Pieter Bruegel’ s The Hunters in the Snow. Companionship is illustrated through the famous Victorian painting by Sir Edwin Landseer, The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner, c. 1837. In this often reproduced work a mournful dog stands watch by the coffin of his master. One of the illustrations for symbolism shows the Egyptian sculptured figure of a Jackal, 7th/8th Century BC. In ancient Egypt jackals represented gods who guided souls through the underworld.

Dog A Dog’s Life in Art and Literature, Iain Zaczek, Watson-Guptill Publications, NY, 2000, N7668.D6Z332000

Dog Painting 1840-1940 a Social History of the Dog in Art, by William Secord traces dog painting in pre-Victorian England through to dog painting in America. The work places emphasis on specific breeds, the history of dog shows, the establishment of kennel clubs, and specific dog artists. Most of the paintings illustrated serve as descriptors for particular breeds.

Dog Painting 1840-1940 A Social History of the Dog in Art, William Secord, Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd. Woodbridge, England, 1992, N7668D6S441992

The Dog in Art from Rococo to Post Modernism by Robert Rosenblum is a three chapter essay on dogs in Western art from the eighteenth century Rococo to the modern day. For his analysis of architecture the author illustrates, Clodion, Mausoleum for Ninette, at the Musee Historique Lorrain, Nancy, France. Claude Michel, a Rococo sculptor who signed his work Clodion, was active during the same period as Fragonard. His funerary monument elevated a dog’s remains to the equivalent of that of a human sarcophagus, replete with the deceased resting on a pillow, with two other dogs standing in support as columns on either side.

In contrast, the author notes a building of Post-Modern architect Stanley Tigerman, the Anti-Cruelty Society Building, Chicago 1981. Tigerman interprets the structure with a humorous bent as admission is gained through and entrance shaped as a dog’s head. The author states that Tigerman mixes the French eighteenth century architecture parlante, a theory espousing that function is illustrated by form, to that of American roadside traditions, such as, restaurants built in the shape of the food they serve, such as ice cream cones.

The Dog in Art from Rococo to Post Modernism, Robert Rosenblum, Harry N. Abrams, Ltd., New York, 1988, N7668D6R671988X

Doyle, New York, The 9th Annual Dogs in Art Auction Including Sporting Art (image), February 13, 2007 is one of the library’s holdings of auction catalogs. Doyle hold annual auction of paintings and sculpture by leading artists of that genre. Examples of works auctioned in this catalog were by paintings by Edmund Henry Osthaus, 1858-1928 and etchings by Marguerite Kirmse.

Doyle New York, The 9th Annual Dogs in Art Auction Including Sporting Art, Doyle New York, Auctioneers & Appraisers, February 13, 2007, N7668D6D682007

Alice Clarke


  1. I just love dogs and dog stories. I have a refrigerator magnetic that reads: “May I always be the person he thinks I am.” It has a photo of a dog like mine. Those are high standards, but I try!

  2. Just to clarify, it’s actually National Dog Day rather than Dog Appreciation Day and it’s Pet Home Magazine rather than Dog Home Magazine.

  3. I had no idea there was a National Dog Day! How cool.
    Thanks for the book suggestions…I need to check them out. I draw dogs from time to time…my own dog is my muse, haha. My favorite use of dogs in art would have to be William Wegman and his weimaraners!

  4. I run a dog training company in Chicago and think that dog appreciation day is a great thing. Many people take for granted how much love and affection our dogs give us.

  5. I know I am a little late in finding this blog post, but is National Dog Appreciation Day on August 26 again this year?
    We just received our little Border Collie-Aussie mix puppy in January from a Border Collie Rescue organization. What I found out through them was just how many dogs are “put to sleep” every day. Makes me sick.
    I wonder if they keep statistics on how many dogs save lives every day, or how many helpful actions dog perform for people with disabilities. Maybe even how many dogs have made a sick child smile.
    We should appreciate dogs every day, and help those that need a good home, food or a little pat on the head.
    I put up a website that follows our dog Kash as he goes through puppy training, learns agility training, and just plays and has fun. Follow along with awesome photos of Kash in action, and you too will smile.

  6. I too had no idea there was a National Dog Day – and how wonderful that there is one! I shall ensure my family celebrate this day from now on with our Labrador Retriever – although we appreciate our beloved Lab every day!What would we do without our lovable & faithful ‘best friends’. They teach us so much.

  7. Thomas

    Great idea! Dogs are loyal and they will never ever stab you in the back. Dog Aggression and how you can train your dog to stop being aggressive!

  8. This artwork featuring dogs is incredible! I realize I’m about a year and a half late commenting here… but I just found the post. I have been trying to find some great animal artwork online. Anyway, thanks for the post. I’ll definitely be celebrating Dog Day next year.

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