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Dog Days of Summer – Animal Portraiture — Blue Heron Fine Art Blog

Dog Days of Summer – Animal Portraiture

by Jim Puzinas on August 19, 2009

When we speak of the dog days of summer, we usually are referring to those beastly hot and humid days, like today, that occur anywhere from July 24th to August 23rd.

The term “Dog Days” actually dates back to the days of the Greeks as well as the ancient Romans and was so named after Sirius, the “Dog Star”, and the brightest star in the heavens besides the Sun. The Romans believed that the appearance of the star each summer was the cause of the hot and sultry weather that occurred annually and the general laziness of all animals, especially dogs.

In celebration of these dog days of summer, I would like to offer some personal examples of dog portraiture and animal portraiture that I have either sold through the gallery or are in my personal collection.

One of the most famous animal painters of all time was British artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802 -1873). He was one of the favorite painters of Queen Victoria and became famous for his depictions of her beloved Cavalier King Charles spaniels.  His paintings were in such high demand that other artists copied his work frequently. This is a fine example of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel painting, after Landseer, artist unknown, circa 1880, that was sold several years ago by the gallery.


Over the years, I have had commissioned several portraits of pets with a local animal artist by the name of Laurie Borden. Viewing them, they each give me joy every day, a warm memory of beloved companions.

Tanker and Charles, chocolate Labrador retrievers, brothers one year apart, each lived a wonderful 14 years. This oil on canvas depicts them in front of the beach stone fireplace in my first home in Scituate, MA about 12 years ago. I still miss them greatly.


Linus, the terror, an adopted black cat with so much personality, it was hard to not think of him as human. He was the boss of the household, and was so talkative that I guess he must have had some Siamese in him. This work in pastel captures him under his favorite rhododendron in the yard.


Clawdia, the queen, a full sized Maine coon female who is still with us at age 12! She proudly parades around the house with our other 2 cats and our yellow Lab, Moses. This oil was produced in a 19th century manner, building the image forward and involving numerous glazes to soften all edges.


I know I have many friends who also cherish their beloved pets. In these dog days of summer, I hope you have ample time to relax and enjoy their love and companionship.


Kathleen Krucoff September 3, 2009 at 3:20 pm

These are wonderful Jim.

delia November 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Lovely, lovely paintings…

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