Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Pug of Doom

The Walker family are currently redesigning our back garden.  We moved into a house previously owned by an old lady who had made most of the garden raised beds and paving, and we wanted grass and flowers.  Part of the reason for this is (and I am lowering my voice) we plan to get a dog at the end of the year.  For goodness sake, do not tell Lily of this plan, she will explode with excitement.  Anyway, before we can consider bringing home a four-legged friend, we need to make our home and surrounding area dog-friendly, and as it currently resembles the Somme, this is taking a lot of effort.  We finally have a bit of lawn, so I have been thinking about dogs all week, how lovely it will be to have a little fluffy bundle of fun in the house.  Ahhh, dogs....

Then I saw this....

John Franks and his Poodle (19th century) British School
That sound is my blood running cold.  I don't know which of them I feel more terrified by.  John Franks is scary enough, that whimsome little smile covering the fact that he has done something awful.  However, that sunken-eyed poodle of despair...I may never sleep again, just in case I wake up in the middle of the night and find them sitting on the end of my bed.

The Victorians loved animals ever so much.  Their love of domestic animals explains the plethora of images, some metaphoric, some straight portraits, and inevitably some of them manage to strike a dischordant note.  For every Daniel Tomkins and his Dog....

Daniel Tomkins and his Dog (1898) Alfred Munning
...there is a Danger Ahead...

Danger Ahead Charles Spencelayh
You know that when you find the deserted village, these two would be stood in the middle of it, refusing to say what happened to everyone else.  They are indeed 'danger ahead'...

Okay, I know what you're thinking, they look harmless, it's just a cute picture of a little girl and her dog.  That's how they'll get you.  You'll be thinking about how sweet and harmless they look, how much the dog loves the little girl, how eerily quiet it is...don't say I didn't warn you.

Mug Won't Beg (1857) John Harris
Poor old Mug, he's planning his revenge as we watch.  I wish I could say 'And the little boy in the painting grew up to be John Ruskin!' as it would explain a lot.  On the whole, although this is a bit strange (and possibly grounds for investigation by the RSPCA), it doesn't frighten me.  Unlike this little gem...

Quite Ready Philip Morris
The pug of doom!  Heavens above, come on!  You can't deny that this is disquietening.  Look at the red border to the animal skin and how white and fluffy the little girl is.  She's 'quite ready', but for what?  Your impending demise, if you ask me.  Alright, the heat may have gotten to me this week, but I never trust anyone dressed in that amount of frilly satin.

Head of a Boy with a Dog Frans Hals
Oh dear, this does nothing to calm me down, possibly because the Boy reminds me of the demon doll Chuckie.  It's the tiny fist clutching at the dog that worries me, plus that manic expression.  Well, at least he has a smile on his face, because I think the lack of expression in the other picture is what disturbs me the most.  I envy my daughter at times, as she can be having a bad day but the merest glimpse of a dog makes everything fabulous and shiny for her, and everything else is forgotten.  Chuckie above at least looks happy about his four-legged chum.  I admit that John Franks (and his poodle) has a sort-of smile, but one that says 'I have no soul, the dog ate it' rather than child-like jollity.

Boy with Dog Wilhelm Marstrand
My word, I think it is possible I shall never sleep again.  The little boy's eyes are just too big and his tiny white dog reminds me of those little pups that look cute, but secretly want to savage you with their needle sharp teeth.  I wonder if he knows John Franks?

Oh, I am sorry, I didn't mean to deprive everyone of sleep tonight.  Granted there are lots of not-even-slighty-terrifying pictures of dogs, but there is a perverse pleasure in finding ones which have no doubt been chilling the blood of audiences for over a century.  I'll leave you with a far more reassuring image, which belongs to Stamford and Rutland Hospital...

Unknown Man and Dog Unknown Artist
See, nothing scary in this picture of an unknown man and his unknown dog by an unknown artist.  The man looks fairly jovial and the dog doesn't look like it's planning any misdeed.  Mind you, we can't see his eyes...I wonder what's in that letter in his hand? 'Dearest Emily, I don't wish to alarm anyone, but I think I heard Pomkin talking to the mice earlier about an accident that is to befall me....'  Shortly afterwards Pomkin's owner fell under a tram and left all his money to Pomkin in a scruffily written Will, signed with a paw print in ink...

I wonder if Lily would be happy with a goldfish?


  1. Another great selection. I love animals but with kids be ready to explain sex, fleas and death!

  2. Oh dear, it must be very hot in your place! I love Frans Hals, but you make me see awful things.
    Our dog is a 'kooikerhond', a forfather of her saved our king (Prince William of Orange) once, but the assassination of 1584 by Balthasar Gerards he couldn't prevent. After the death of it's master, he wouldn't eat or drink anymore. After 3 days it died and was buried with William.
    Sigh, snif, no goldfish would do that (no goldfish I know of...)

    Loved your post :)

  3. I adore your 'horror movie' imaginings for each of these pictures! You've had my house-guests and I laughing our heads off.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx