Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fido in Art

Venus of Urbino, Titian. 1538 Oil on Canvas, Uffizi, Florence

In Venus... There is a little dog laying at her feet whis is called a "pendant" or balancing figure. The dog may have been a pet popular with the upper classes, other than being a 'pendant' for this composition, this dog is pure ornament!

Triumph of Death by Francesco Traini mid 14th century, Fresco Camposanto, Pisa.
Dogs depicted in paintings through the ages have represented many things, most often it is fidelity and loyalty. In contrast to the Venus of Urbino, in this painting, Triumph of Death, the dogs are hunting dogs, owned by the wealthy, lavishly dressed people who discover rotting corpses. There is a woman on a horse on far left who is cradling a sleeping pet with a hand on her chest, eyes closed as if she can't deal with the scene. The plauge was killing people by the thousands during this time. Dogs were a symbol of fidelity as they were 'always there' and were often the only companions survivors of the plauge had left in such devistating times.

The stereotype doggie name, 'Fido' came from 'fidelio' or fidelity... there's a good reason he's been dubbed man's best friend!

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