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D2434. Blue and White Figure of a Seated Spaniel on a Green Base

Delft, circa 1760

Modeled seated on its haunches looking straight ahead, its head, breast, paws and tail painted in blue and white, and a blue spine, and blue dots on the sides and paws, seated on the grassy green chamfered rectangular base.

Height: 23 cm. (9.1 in.)

Former Aronson Antiquairs Collection;
Private Collection, Kapellen, 2023

The dog has been memorialized in art since the Bronze Age, when they appeared in caverns and carvings, and were the heroes of drawings, sculptures and children’s toys. In later Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures, dogs were depicted in art and reliefs as faithful and courageous aides, and gatekeepers of the connection between life and death. Greek culture especially deified dogs. The Romans had various uses for dogs, including hunting dogs, watchman dogs, like the Neapolitan mastiff, and toy dogs, which, similar to the Maltese, were basically personal companions to ladies.

During the Medieval period, dogs were viewed as an image of devotion and steadfastness. In fact, portraits of couples frequently included the pet dog. In paintings of the hunt, dogs were depicted with their male owner, which symbolized their privilege and aristocratic status. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, dogs were typically deified in hunting scenes or in the laps of women. The eighteenth century marked the first time when dogs were exclusively depicted on their own.

Although it is possible that the present Delftware dog bore additional meaning in the eighteenth century, it is more likely that the Delft potters added this popular dog to their wide assortment of purely ornamental farm and domestic animals, which were placed on the mantelpiece, etageres, or inside the ‘porcelain’ cabinet.

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