Monday, December 20, 2010


Today I'm going to tell you about an artist who really liked to paint pictures with dogs in them.  She was very good at doing this, and she got to be famous for all the nice paintings she made of dogs.

Her name was Maud Earl, and she was born in London in 1864.  Her father, George Earl, was an artist, and he thought it would be good for his daughter to be an artist, too.  Which is why he taught her how to draw.  He made her study anatomy and draw skeletons of people and animals, and later Miss Earl said that was how she learned to make such good pictures of dogs.

Welsh Terriers
At first, Miss Earl thought she would have a career in music, but then she decided to study art.  So her father sent her to the Royal Female School of Art.  Back in those days, when Miss Earl was learning to paint, it was the Victorian Age, and women didn't make their living by painting.  But Maud Earl was different.  She painted portraits of champion show dogs that were owned by rich and important people, and she did such a good job of making these paintings that lots of people hired her to paint their dogs.

Rough-Coated Collie
After a while, even Queen Victoria wanted Maud Earl to paint portraits of her dogs, so she asked Miss Earl to come to Windsor Castle and paint her favorite collie.  The Prince and Princess of Wales, Albert and Alexandra, also got portraits made of their dogs, especially Princess Alexandra's borzoi, Alex.

Sometimes people asked Miss Earl how she got the dogs to hold still and let her paint them.  She said that she never painted from photographs.  Instead, she put the dog on a sort of stool on wheels, so that it was easy to move the dog around.  Usually, there was somebody there to help with the dog, but Miss Earl was often the one who got the dog settled down and posing quietly.  Then she sketched it with chalks first, and later she used oil paints.

St. Bernard
One time in 1898 when Miss Earl was interviewed for a magazine, she said, "You can't paint dogs unless you understand them; I don't mean merely from the fancier's point of view. You must know whether they are happy and comfortable, and if not, why not. You must know how to quiet them when they become excited and nervous. You must know all their little likes and dislikes, and this knowledge comes from long experience."  

I think that dogs must have really liked Miss Earl, and I wish I could have known her and had my picture painted by her.  I don't believe she painted any portraits of basenjis, but this was probably because most of the basenjis were still in Africa at that time.

Greyhounds, 1900
The art history people say that Maud Earl's painting career went through four different styles.  The early dog portraits, from 1880 to 1900, have a naturalistic style, with dogs in a landscape or in a room or something like that.

Fox Terriers, 1905
Then between 1900 and 1915, the style is looser and sketchier around the edges, even though the dogs are totally finished.

Bird of Paradise, 1915
After that, Miss Earl moved to the United States, and the reason she did that was because she felt that World War I had changed everything she used to love in England.  Her paintings when she first got to the U.S. were what she called "in the Chinese style," and she painted more birds, besides still painting dogs, of course.

Three French Bulldogs
Then finally, in the 1930s, she did dog portraits in a more stylized, decorative way.

American art lovers and dog lovers were very glad to have Miss Earl in this country, and they kept her busy painting pictures of their dogs, just like the British people had.  Miss Earl died in 1943 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.  And that's all I know to tell you about her.
A Bulldog and a French Poodle


  1. Dodi here. I've been so good lately, my mom said I could do the writing today. I think I would have liked Maud Earl - and I think it's too bad that she's no longer around. My mom said it would have been neat if Maud Earl was around to paint a picture of you and all your siblings. I said I thought Charlie and Chloe should be in the painting too...but I don't know if she ever painted cats!? My mom laughed that Miss Earl attended the "female" school of art...I have no idea why mom laughed at that? Sometimes my mom laughs or rolls her eyes at things I just don't understand. Time for my mom to leave for her dr. appt. Guess Di and I will be left alone again.
    Love, Dodi

  2. I don't think Maud Earl ever painted cats, but I don't know why she didn't. My mom also thought it was funny that they used to have art schools just for girls. I guess they didn't have any male nudes in the drawing classes at those schools. Actually, they probably didn't have any female nudes either!
    Love, Piper

  3. Thank you for another interesting post. I think dog artist are important. Do you know of any others?

    Today we are celebrating my brother Digital the brindlewonderkid's birthday. He is 14. Mom says she hopes he's around for another 14 years. He's a very special dog with LOTS of titles and taught my mom lots of stuff.

    Your friend,
    Zest! superstar in training

  4. Dear Zest!
    Yes, there are some other dog artists, but I don't know all their names. Another one that painted pictures of Queen Victoria's dogs was Edwin Landseer. Maybe I should write about him sometime.

    Tell Digital to have a very happy birthday. I hope he gets some special treats or something like that. My brother Gabe is going to be 13 in January, but he has a bunch of stuff wrong with him, so he acts like an old dog, at least some of the time.

    Personally, I plan not to get old. I think it's better not to!

    Your friend, Piper