If You Want a Friend in Politics, Get a Dog, an exhibition on loan from the AKC art collection, has been installed at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence, in Harrisburg. “The governor and I are thrilled to partner with the American Kennel Club to offer this rare art exhibition featuring man’s best friend,” says Pennsylvania first lady Susan Corbett, wife of Governor Tom Corbett. “As dog lovers, we hope that visitors will enjoy and appreciate this unique display of canine art.”
The exhibition, on view to the public through January 2014, features 24 masterpieces of canine art from the renowned AKC collection. The paintings usually hang at our headquarters in New York, and everyone in the office has their personal favorites. Here are three from the Harrisburg show that for years have brightened my work day.
Gustav Muss-Arnolt (1858‑1927)
The Windholme kennel was America’s most famous Beagle pack of the early 20th century. The German-born Muss-Arnolt, a dog-show judge as well as a distinguished painter, immortalize these celebrated little hounds in a series of five pictures. All five exhibit the artist’s mastery of canine anatomy and subtle coloring. But Bartender is the only one in which the dog looks directly out to the viewer, melting the heart with that certain Beaglish poignancy that makes the breed a perennial favorite with pet owners.
Pug and Terrier
John Sargent Noble (1848-1896)
A well-fed, pampered Pug confronts a scruffy beggar’s dog on the steps of a posh townhouse. Victorian painters often veiled their social satire by casting dogs in roles usually played by humans. Noble’s take on London’s “haves and have-nots,” painted in 1875, still makes its point vividly. It’s a classic example of “genre painting,” art of everyday life that asks viewers to use their imagination to fill in the story.
Ch. Bang Away of Sirrah Crest
T. Tashira (20th century)
For this 1957 painting and me, it was love at first sight. And 15 years after we met, I still find myself standing before it delighted by the superb draftsmanship, the dynamic wedge shape of the great Boxer, the way the amorphous yellow-green background provides maximum “pop” when juxtaposed with the fawn-and-white coat. Bang Away was a show-ring legend and a cornerstone dog of his breed in America. During a six-year career he racked up 121 Bests in Show, including Westminster 1951, and sired 90 champions.
If You Want a Friend in Politics, Get a Dog, paintings from the American Kennel Club collection, at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence; fall viewing schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; reservations: 717-772-9130; more information at pa.gov/firstlady