Pet Art History 101

From the dogs of the Middle Ages to Frida Kahlo's monkeys and Picasso's Afghan Hounds, humans have been memorializing their animals for thousands of years. Here are 25 amazing and bizarre pet portraits throughout art history.

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Jan van Eyck, "The Arnolfini Portrait," 1434.

"I mean I'm not going to lie to you guys: if you're going to leave those weird pointy slippers right there then I'm going to take a shit in at least one of them."

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Vittore Carpaccio, "Two Venetian Ladies," circa 1490.

"Seriously, Walter? This is my time right now. Do you think I just put this little studded collar on for fun?"

"Portrait of Queen Catherine of Aragon with Her Pet Monkey," circa 1530.

"OK, real talk. Does the whole you-not-having-any-babies-with-Henry thing mean we're going to have to move? Because I don't know about you, Catherine, but I kind of like it in this castle."

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Titian, "The Portrait of Charles V with a Dog," 1533.

"I know 'the sun never sets on your empire,' blah blah blah, but nonetheless I'm just going to have a sniff of your codpiece if that's OK, Charlie?"

Diego Velázquez, "Las Meninas (The Ladies-in-Waiting)," 1656.

"I'm gonna count to five, little girl, and if your foot isn't off my back I'm actually going to eat you. One..."

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William Hogarth, "Self Portrait with a Pug," 1745.

"Bill you're not gonna paint the tongue thing, right? Please, not again. I can't with the tongue thing rn tbqh."

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George Romney, "Lady Hamilton as Nature," 1782.

"Smiling in portraits doesn't make us slutty. We prefer to think of ourselves as 'sexually liberated.' K, thx."

Ammi Phillips, "Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog," 1830–35.

"Hmm, I think, I think if we're being honest, the dog and the girl in the red dress and I, if we're being totally honest, and just super blunt, and like, honestly, not to be super offensive, but we just want to say, again, not trying to be mean, but can you like, just fuck right off?"

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Claude Monet, "Camille with a Small Dog," 1866.

"I guess, Camille, sometimes I don't want you to just stare into nothingness, you know? Like, just once I want you to say, 'Who's a pretty girl,' and I'd say, 'It's me. I'm her. Oh, I'm her.'"

Mary Cassatt, "Little Girl in a Blue Armchair," 1878.

"I'm too tired to move. Life is hard and I like, don't want to move, you know?"

"Isn't Lindsay's birthday party today?"

"Oh… yeah."


"We never really liked Lindsay anyway."

Auguste Renoir, "Madame Charpentier and Her Children," 1878.

"Yeah, I'm happy that you just sit on me without asking. No, no, it's OK. I know it's easy to mistake me for something that has no self-esteem. It's fine, I don't even notice your weight that much anymore."

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Briton Rivière, "Cupboard Love," 1881.

"Wait—there only appears to be one biscuit, and yet there are two of us?"

"May the best dog win, Dominic. May the best dog win."

Edouard Manet, "La Femme au Perroquet," 1866

"Ahem, lady, excuse me—lady? I seem to have dropped my orange. Could you just...could you just pick it up? Remember you clipped my wings, so if you could just help me—no, no, it's OK, you don't have to help me. No, I don't care that much. I don't have to have a delicious orange today."

Guillaume Dubufe, "Un Regal Pour son Animal de Compagnie (A Treat for Her Pet)," 1871.

"Cherries again? Oh, cherries are cool. Really, I've literally never wanted any other kind of treat but cherries, which is great, because that's literally the only treat you give me. Seriously, it's great to me that this is my life."

Anna Merritt, "Portrait de Minna Sophia Farrer Tenant un Lapin," 1878.

"What, no, Minna and I weren't talking shit about you right before you walked over. Why would you think that? Why would you think we were talking shit about you and suddenly stopped and looked up as soon as you walked over?"

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Rupert Bunny, "Portrait of the Artist's Wife," 1902.

"You can't sit with us!"

Balthus, "The King of Cats," 1935.

"You call me 'The King of Cats,' but sometimes, Balthus, sometimes I can't help but think that you think that king is you?"

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Frida Kahlo, "Self-Portrait with Monkey and Parrot," 1942

"There's only room for one of us up here, little parrot. And it's not the guy with the stupid green face."

Edward Hopper, "Cape Cod Evening," 1939.

"So the Finchley's really did go ahead with that positively awful deck idea after all? Who would have thought it?"

Pablo Picasso, "Woman with Dog Under a Tree," 1961.

"So this staying-still-as-long-as-we-can game—is it just the two of us playing?"

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Alice Neel, "Victoria and the Cat," 1980. Image courtesy of Sragow Gallery

"And now if you could just support the other half of me, Vicky, that'd be great—no, no, that's still my neck love."

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Lucian Freud, "Double Portrait," 1988–1990.

"Oh, don't worry, it's OK, you can change the record. We don't love The Cure that much, do we? We don't super-love listening to The Cure while lying on the floor and feeling sorry for ourselves. It's totally not a thing for us at all that you just turned off The Cure."

William Wegman, "Harvest," 1994.

"Be honest, are the walnuts too much? I knew I should have gone for almonds! I said to Roger: 'Roger, I should go for almonds this time,' but of course he insisted."

Laurie Simmons, "Blonde/Aqua Sweater/Dog," 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

"Her head turned into a doll's head again, didn't it? I'm worried if I turn around right now, she'll inexplicably be a doll again. I don't know why I think that, but I think she might have turned into a really frightening doll with huge eyes again randomly."

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