The Dog Show: Art of our Canine Companions

The Dog Show exhibit at the Morris Museum

The Dog Show: The Art of our Canine Companions is currently open at the Morris Museum in Morris County, New Jersey.

Capturing the essence of dog–the old fashioned way

Way before photos of cats and dogs ruled the interwebs, those furry creatures found their way into artists’ studios (and hearts)–and onto their canvasses.

Proud breeders and winners of dog shows commissioned artists to capture their champions in oil, to hang in the parlour and to admire way after their pup was no longer with them.

So it wasn’t too hard to find dog art–including paintings to sculptures–for New Jersey’s Morris Museum to include in its exhibition: The Dog Show: Art of our Canine Companions. Featuring more than 100 works from American and British artists, the show captures the spirit and essence of dogs–from champion show animals to orphaned mutts. Curated by the museum’s executive director Linda Moore, with help from William Secord–a dog painting expert who has an entire New York City gallery devoted to dogs and animals in art–the Dog Show includes works from the nineteenth century to the present.

Inspired by philanthropist and dog lover Geraldine R. Dodge

The inspiration for the exhibition was Geraldine R. Dodge, a  longtime resident of Morris County, who, according to Moore, was not only a “legend in the purebred dog world,” but also was “a renowned art collector, philanthropist, dog show judge, breeder and exhibitor of champion dogs.” Dodge founded the Morris and Essex Dog show, which ran for thirty years and “became one of the most widely attended dog shows in the world, attracting up to 50,000 spectators.”

Dodge was also a patron of the arts, who in addition to collecting art, commissioned 200 paintings of her own show dogs, some of which are featured in the exhibition.

Dogs in the Museum

Why an art exhibit with just art featuring dogs (and one cat!)? “Dogs are a subject many people can relate to,” says Moore. Dogs have been depicted in artwork prior to the period covered by the show, but here they “take center stage.” You can tell by looking at the title tags that accompany each piece. It is customary to include the name of the artist, the date of the work, the title, medium and an acknowledgement of the person or entity that was kind enough to loan the art to the museum. In this exhibit, the breed of each dog–and the name, where possible–are listed as well.

And before you ask, no, there aren’t any plans to devote an entire art exhibit to cats as a subject. Yet.

I was lucky enough to get a private tour of the exhibit, which is open through December 14. Below are some of the highlights:

The Dog Show exhibit at the Morris Museum

Earlier paintings focused on champion show dog portraits and sporting dogs.

The Dog Show exhibit at the Morris Museum

Breeds from Airdales to Welsh Terriers are featured.

The Dog Show exhibit at the Morris Museum

There are also sculptures, included those honoring Seeing Eye dogs, whose headquarters is just a few miles away from the museum.

The Dog Show exhibit at the Morris Museum: A Good Life by Joy Kreoger Beckner

I love this bronze by Joy Kreoger Beckner, entitled “A Good Life.” On loan from Lawrence Terricone

The Dog Show exhibit at the Morris Museum: Geraldine R. Dodge photos and paintings

Photo of Geraldine R. Dodge and one of her dogs, along with two paintings of her pets.

The Dog Show exhibit at the Morris Museum: Gift Shop

The museum gift shop features lots of dog-themed items for purchase.

Click through the gallery below to see some of my favorite pieces from the exhibition.

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If you go:

The Dog Show: Art of our Canine Companions

Where: The Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morris Township, NJ.

When: Sept.12-Dec. 14. Open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

How much: Admission $10 adults, $7 children and seniors (children under 3 are free); free for everyone Thursday from 5-8 p.m.

For more information: (973) 971-3700 or visit the Morris Museum Website.

9 Comments on "The Dog Show: Art of our Canine Companions"

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  1. I would live to visit this Dog Show (and the cat, of course). It’s interesting to see how different the breeds look during the years.

  2. Emma says:

    What a nice collection.

  3. meowmeowmans says:

    What a great idea for a show. We wish we lived closer to Morris Township, because we would go!

  4. I would totally go to that. I also want to visit the dog museum someday (I think it’s in St. Louis).

  5. Very cool! We bet there’s a cat art collection somewhere, too.

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