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The Good Companions: an exhibition for dog lovers

The Good Companions: an exhibition for dog lovers

A new exhibition opening at Newmarket’s National Horse Racing Museum this summer is sure to appeal to dog lovers. Featuring paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, books and more, The Good Companions: The Many Roles of our Canine Friends explores man’s unique relationship with dogs throughout the centuries.

Depicting dogs of all kinds, the works – including pieces by artists such as George Stubbs, William Hogarth, Edwin Landseer, Dame Elisabeth Frink and Sir Alfred Munnings – will be on display from 28 July to 1 November 2020.

A statement says, “Each of the 30-plus works were specially chosen by curator Katherine Field as they tell extraordinary stories about individual dogs. The earliest pieces in the exhibition are A Gentleman with a Dog in a Wood (c.1746, Gainsborough’s House) by Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth’s wonderful self-pawtrait with his pet, Painter and his Pug (1746, Private Collection).

“Elisabeth Frink’s delightful, cast bronze sculpture of a seated terrier, Childhood (1992, Private Collection), is one of the last artworks she made before her death in 1993.”

Black Knight Finishes his Diary, 1944, by Sir Alfred Munnings, copyright the estate of Sir Alfred Munnings, Dedham, Essex

The Good Companions follows a series of distinct themes: Dogs as Companions, Dogs as Heroes and Sporting Dogs.

The dogs portrayed in the works on display include Edward VII’s wire-haired fox terrier Caesar, “heartbreakingly photographed walking behind the King’s coffin during his funeral in 1910, ahead of nine kings and other heads of state”.

“The Heroes section takes visitors through a display of dogs working to help save lives during times of conflict. From Rip, a search dog for Poplar Air Raid Precautions (ARP) and Jet searching through rubble during the Blitz, to Edith Cavell’s Jack (works all from Imperial War Museum Photograph Archive). Cavell was the British nurse who saved hundreds of allied troops’ lives in German-occupied Belgium, during WW1.

“Tragically, she was arrested on 5 August 1915 and tried by court martial on 7 October 1915, before being executed by firing squad. Cavell is photographed in happier times, in her garden in Brussels, with her beloved dogs Jack and Don.”

RW Sutherland, Cavalry Officer, 1917, by Sir Alfred Munnings, copyright the estate of Sir Alfred Munnings, Dedham, Essex

“Following Edith’s death, Jack pined for her and he would occasionally bite the nurses and other staff working in her hospital. Because of his behaviour, he was shipped from pillar to post but eventually found a stable home with the Dowager Duchess de Croÿ, whose family had taken part in hiding fugitives alongside Edith Cavell.

“Settled, Jack saw out his days with the Duchess and her other dogs in contentment and was preserved after his death. He is currently looked after by the Imperial War Museum, but it is hoped he will be making a special trip to Newmarket for the purposes of the exhibition.

A Greyhound in a Landscape (1817) Schwanfelder, Charles Henry. © The British Sporting Art Trust

The Good Companions’ Curator Katherine Field says, “It’s been really exciting putting together such a wide ranging, engaging and fun survey of our relationship with our canine friends across the centuries – with some fantastic loans we are going to be telling amazing stories of friendship, bravery and much more… we cannot wait to share them with our visitors.”

For more information about this exhibition and other events, visit www.palacehousenewmarket.co.uk, or follow @palacehousenkt on Facebook and @palacehouse_nkt on Twitter.

Alessandra Pacelli

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