Toy Dogs in Art Part II The Little White Toy Dog That May Have Been a Maltese

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Toy Dogs in Art Part II The Little White Toy Dog That May Have Been a Maltese

by Connie Limon

There is a painting at the Prado in Madrid that is almost certainly a breed that we have now lost, or just as likely, it is a crossbred resulting from the inter-mixing of the various strains of tiny toy dogs. Tiny toy dogs were the playthings of the houses of fashion and the courts of the mid-seventeenth century. This little dog is white in color with a face and eyes like our present day Maltese. The solid white coat is identical to the kind of a Maltese. The painting done in 1650 is called ?The Holy Family of the Little Bird.? The artist is Murillo.

An interesting point to mention is that this little white dog in the painting has the kind of tail found on a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Even though it had the tail like the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, it probably was not that breed, because the color was white. The subject of Murillo?s paintings is biblical. He often included his own dogs in his paintings, or the dogs he saw around him, or even dogs belonging to the sponsors for whom he painted the picture.

It has been noted that in this particular portrait the result is fascinating. The little white dog is sitting in front of the Holy Family, looks as if he definitely adores the child, but at the same time is keeping an eye on the goldfinch which the child holds up to tempt him. I have to wonder though still perhaps it was the imagination of the painter rather than a Maltese or a crossbred of anything. On the flip side, however, it could have very well been a breed we have now lost, since it is known that these artists did tell many true to life stories through their painting.

I suppose noone can fully appreciate the portraits done by these talented artists without standing directly in front of them and with a love for great art as well for toy dogs.

Many galleries and private collections have paintings that include toy dogs. Of interest is that few of them are of toy dogs themselves. Most of the portraits are someone with a toy dog or toy dogs included as one of the natural adjuncts of the person portrayed.

One exception to this rule is the portrait of the artist?s dog ?Tump? by Hogarth, in the possession of the Kennel Club in London. The artist Hogarth was not exceptional because he owned dogs or toy dogs. He was just one of the few artists who displayed love for his pets as he did by including them in a good many of his paintings and engravings.

Another talented artist, Velasquez, in his painting ?Prince Phillip Prosper? in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, painted a little white dog very much like the white toy dog in Murillo?s ?The Holy Family of the Little Bird.? In his portrait the little white dog that resembles our Maltese sits very comfortably looking on a chair he looks as if he very much considers his own. The child in the portrait is painted in the formal manner of the time, staring out of the painting and paying no attention to the toy dog. The little white toy dog that resembles a Maltese in this portrait has one eye on the artist and an ear pointing towards the child. One interpretation of this painting was that it truly appears as if the artist included the child because he was instructed to do so, but painted the little white dog that resembles our Maltese from sheer enjoyment!

This series: Toy Dogs in Art continues in Part III.

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

Author: Connie Limon, Toy Dog Fancier. Visit us at About Toy Dogs is a guide to the selection and care of toy dog breeds. We feature articles, dog books and a toy dog breeder directory. Purchase a full page ad with 3 pictures, a 12 picture video, advertising in our newsletters, and article marketing promotion. To my knowledge no other toy dog breed directory offers this same package of advertising services to toy dog breeders.

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