Throughout the history of humankind, dogs have always been a critical member of society and played a significant role in its functioning. Whether as pets, guards, co-workers, hunting or hiking companions, you rest assured that man’s best friend will always be there with a smile on their face doing their best.
To show their love and appreciation for these incredible animals, over the centuries, artists have proudly taken up their paintbrushes and painted commemoration after commemoration dedicated to our four-legged friends, thus immortalizing them on the canvas forever.
The following is a look at the most famous dog paintings ever created and some of the many meanings behind them. If you are an enthusiastic lover of dogs and art, then any of these unique paintings would be a perfect fit for hanging on a wall in your home.
Table of Contents
The Hunters in the Snow (Winter) 1565 by Pieter The Elder Bruegel
Widely referred to as “The Return of the Hunters,” this oil-on-wood painting is one of the most famous dog paintings in the collection of Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel’s work and is also one of the most well-known paintings featuring dogs ever made.
Painted with a high degree of realism and in the Northern Renaissance style, “The Hunters in the Snow” acts as the first painting in Bruegel’s series known as the “Months of the Year” cycle. Five paintings remain in the collection, with this one being the first.
The painting depicts a gloomy winter scene where three hunters have returned home from an unsuccessful hunt with their dogs. The empty-handed hunters with their dogs in tow, looking down at the people of the village below, are said to represent the importance of community and cooperation versus the hardships of nature.
Dogs Playing Pool by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
If you are looking for famous art with dogs, there is none more famous or iconic than Cassius Coolidge’s “Dogs Playing Pool” paintings. No other paintings involving dogs are more instantly recognizable or have been reproduced and sold more than Coolidge’s paintings.
Dogs playing pool is a series of paintings containing more than sixteen variations of the comical anthropomorphic scene. The humor within these satirical scenarios of dogs doing human things aims to show the silliness of human beings at times while at the same time drawing the attention of the eye to the scene itself.
The paintings were originally painted as part of an ad campaign to promote the sale of cigarettes and alcohol. However, they proved to be widely successful, and now these quirky paintings hang in homes worldwide and stand for our love of socializing, and leisure, something humans and dogs both have in common.
The Dog by Francisco De Goya Y Lucientes
“The Dog” by Spanish painter Francisco Goya is a painting that is more ominous and morose compared to most other dog paintings. It is part of Goya’s “Black Paintings” collection, which he painted in isolation onto the walls of his house and depicted some utterly dark and macabre scenes.
Goya’s dog is lost and alone in the vast empty expanse of nothingness. The dog’s gaze is upward, and there is a feeling that the dog is on the move. However, only its head is visible while the rest of its body is hidden under a dark sloping mass. Many people believe that the dog is drowning.
There is also the faint, distorted image of what looks to be a man standing above the slope. This symbol of the faded man can be said to represent Goya’s fleeting health and failing mind, while the dog in distress can be said to be a symbol of the futility of human beings against nature and time. Despite the darkly uncomfortable tone, it is an exciting painting nonetheless.
Young Boy Asleep with Dogs 1905 by Margaret Collyer
One of the prettiest dog paintings you will ever see, “A Young Boy with His Dogs,” portrays the heartwarming bond of love between a boy and his dogs as they nap together on the dunes on a summer’s day.
Collyer loved painting animals, and the combination of child and dog was one of her favorites. This painting highlights beautifully how people genuinely feel about their beloved pets and how our beloved pets feel about us.
The child sleeping with his Collies embodies powerful symbols of care and protection, while the collies themselves also embody the character of protection and a sense of loyalty. Collyer’s love of dogs jumps out off the canvas, and it is easy to see why Collyer was sometimes called the “Master of Dogs.”
Dogs in a Boat by Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer is known for his gritty, real-life depictions of 19th-century American life. A self-thought artist, Homer would become one of the most respected landscape painters in America at the time. Over time he became particularly interested in boats, water scenes, and maritime affairs.
“Hunting Dogs in a Boat” is an excellent example. It is a beautiful watercolor rendering of five hunting dogs resting in a boat after presumably being on the hunt for deer. This painting wonderfully captures the essence of nature and real-life that Winslow was famous for.
The dogs can be said to represent family, while the boat has long been a symbol associated with home. Of all Winslow’s famous paintings, “Dogs in a Boat” is perhaps one of the most charming.
If you’re a dog lover, any of these paintings will make an incredible addition to your home. However, these are only some of the most famous examples of dog paintings. There are many more famous dogs in paintings out there to choose from.