Thursday, 16 December 2021

Thursday 16th December - Love Me, Love My Dog

 Almost at the end of term, so I'm having a peaceful day, enjoying a day alone before the next two weeks of bustle and socially distanced merriment with very few people indeed. In fact, almost no-one.  For goodness sake. We are delivering some presents at the weekend and if I'm lucky, I'll be able to drag Lily off to an exhibition next week while everything is still open, not that I'm feeling pessimistic or anything.  Anyway, on with today's frankly disturbing and confusing image...

'Love Me, Love My Dog'  (1853) Charles Baxter

Oh, my word. I'm not sure where to start, although the hat is pretty impressive and does distract a little from the off-the-shoulder number. I know that dressing your children, both boys and girls, like that was popular at the time, even though it looks a bit odd these days. I mean look at this pretty little girl...

John Ruskin (1822) James Northcote

That pretty little moppet is father of Pre-Raphaelitism and lady-garden-phobic, John Ruskin.  I believe somewhere we have a picture of my Grandfather in a dress like this too. I'd say it would be difficult to tell if the child with the dog is a boy or a girl, but I think the big hat is meant to indicate that it's a girl. Honestly, I would worry more about the fact the frock appears to be falling off than keeping your head warm, or feathery.  Looking at that picture of pretty Ruskin, he also has a dog - do dogs come free with the dress? Are the dogs there to help keep the dresses up?

As for the dog, he's a fluffy little devil. I like his somewhat stunned expression and his tongue sticking out.  On the whole, he's more appealing than the child. Maybe the title of the painting should be 'Love my Dog, Love me'. Actually, the phrase 'love me, love my dog' is an interesting one...

The Faith of Saint Bernard (1913) John Emms

The phrase derives from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who said 'Qui me amat, amat et canem meam' or 'whoever loves me, also loves my dog' or words to that effect. I wondered if the Saint Bernard dog had been named after him, as in the picture above, but that's a lot more complicated. That was Saint Bernard of Menthon, who founded a hostel for travellers in Switzerland.  Large dogs were used firstly as guard dogs but then as rescue dogs to locate lost travellers, and became known as Saint Bernard dogs, after the hostel.

To the Rescue (c.1913) John Emms

I was always fascinated by them, being a child of the 1970s and having such celebrity Saint Bernards such as Schnorbitz. It's odd, isn't it, you don't really get celebrity dogs anymore. Saint Bernards appealed to me as they came with their own drink dispenser...

Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveller (1820) Edwin Landseer

These dogs have come across a bloke who seems to have fallen down a crevasse, but never fear, they have brought booze so now it's a party! I love the fact that there was a joke in Punch where a man who bred Saint Bernard puppies confesses 'Of course, I only breed them for the brandy...'

Maybe having a dog who can provide alcohol makes it's owner easier to love? I'm not sure but I do remember that my lovely friend Helen had a cuddly Saint Bernard dog when we were little, of which I was very envious. Maybe the dog in today's picture has a collar laden with miniatures?  We shall never know...

See you tomorrow.

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