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Dogs Rule! Find “Royals” Doggie Day Inspiration in the Pets of “Tudors to Windsors” December 26, 2018

By Sarah Hobson
Tags: tudors-to-windsors, anthony-van-dyck, willem-wissing, mary-of-modena, dorothy-wilding, lisa-sheridan, queen-elizabeth-ii, james-gunn, dogs

Visitors have an extraordinary opportunity to come face-to-face with the fascinating figures of British royalty in Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits from Holbein to Warhol—including a few fascinating furry figures.
 

After Sir Anthony van Dyck, Five Children of King Charles I
After Sir Anthony van Dyck, Five Children of King Charles I (Mary, Princess of Orange; King James II; King Charles II; Princess Elizabeth; Princess Anne), 1637, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, London.

The first dog in the exhibition is an English mastiff posing with a young Prince Charles II, who places his hand on the animal’s head. The massive guard dog protects the children in this portrait that was painted during a time of civil unrest. The position of the young prince’s hand suggests that he is capable of ruling this powerful beast and, by extension, his country.


Willem Wissing, Mary of Modena
Willem Wissing, Mary of Modena, c. 1685, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, London.

A portrait of Mary of Modena, an Italian princess who was the second wife of King James II, includes a small pup that looks like an Italian Greyhound—a reference to Mary’s homeland. The turn of the dog's head away from his mistress may suggest that his master (or a squirrel?) is nearby.


Symonds & Co., Alexandra, Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra)
Symonds & Co., Alexandra, Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra), 1844–1925, 1877, carbon print, National Portrait Gallery, London.

In this photograph, Queen Alexandra—married to Edward VII, son of the first British royals to be photographed, Victoria and Albert—sits on the royal yacht with two loyal friends.


Dorothy Wilding, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor; Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor
Dorothy Wilding, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor; Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, 1955, toned bromide print, National Portrait Gallery, London.

Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, owned a pack of creatively named pugs, including Black Diamond, Davy Crockett, Disraeli, Ginseng, Imp, and Trooper. The duchess also had 11 pug-shaped pillows arranged at the foot of her bed.
 

Lisa Sheridan, Queen Elizabeth II with Her Corgi Dookie   Sir James Gunn, Conversation Piece at the Royal Lodge, Windsor

Lisa Sheridan, Queen Elizabeth II with Her Corgi Dookie, 1936, gelatin silver print, National Portrait Gallery, London | Sir James Gunn, Conversation Piece at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, 1950, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, London. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Today’s royal family is known for a love of corgis that started when King George VI owned the family’s first pet corgi in 1933, leading to a royal obsession: The family has owned more than 30 corgis since 1945!


“Royals” Doggie Day

See more furry royalty at “Royals” Doggie Day on Saturday, January 12!
Bring your four-legged friends for a fun-filled afternoon on The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza at the MFAH! Dress up your crowd-friendly, leashed dogs in their regal best for a pawrade and costume contest during the free event inspired by these royal pets. Learn more about “Royals” Doggie Day.


Visit “Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits from Holbein to Warhol,” on view in the Law Building through January 27.