Pets in Portraits


A collection of portraits featuring cameo appearances by animals, selected from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London, by Robin Gibson, a former Chief Curator, who tells remarkable stories behind them.

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ISBN: 9781855144989 Category:

Robin Gibson


‘Look at people and their pets today. Pets tell something about their owners, whether they are bought to make a fashion statement, as child substitutes or as an expression of unconditional love between two sentient beings.’ So remarked Robin G ibson, the author of this book , on its first publication in 1998. ‘It i s about the various animals that appear in portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, but it is also about the owners of the animals w ho commissioned the portraits. The association of the subject or indeed the artist of a po rtrait with an identifiable pet immediately adds a further dimension to our understanding of the characterisation. ‘ For example, in a self – portrait by Hogarth there is a pug – probably painted over by the artist and visible only under X – ray – relieving itself on a pile of old master paintings. ‘A succinct comment,’ Gibson writes , ‘on those collectors who preferred second – rate foreign imports to contemporary work s by British artists. ‘ From the Elizabethan soldier and diplomat Sir Henry Unton to the children of King Charles I; from the little terrier that records Lady Caroline Lamb’s first extra – marital affair to Queen Victoria’s dogs, photographed with her Ghillie John Brown; from the extraordinary images of ballet dancer Anna Pavlova and her pet swan to the poet and critic Edith Sitwell and her favourite cat, this book charts the British love – affair with the domestic pet. F or this new edition , the naturalist, pho tographer and television presenter Chris Packham has contributed an introductory text that features additional portraits from the Gallery’s collections . Amusing and often surprising, this delightful book provides some unusual insight s into the special bond between sitters and their faithful companions.

Additional information

Weight 408 g
Dimensions 17.3 x 18.9 cm
Publisher name National Portrait Gallery Publications
Publication date 1 May 2015
Number of pages 144
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 17.3 x 18.9 cm
Weight 408 g


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