In 400 Photographs, a New Book Captures the Joys of Canine Companionship

Harry Giglio, Pray for Peace 1996
Harry Giglio, Pray for Peace 1996 | Image courtesy of the artist and Taschen
Rachel Gould

Art & Design Editor

Taschen’s latest tome exemplifies how dogs have long been our sincerest companions—and they certainly know how to work it for the camera.

Collector, museum trustee, and photography patron Raymond Merritt’s compilation of over 400 photographs from 1839 to the present day is both a rare examination of the dog as a photographic subject, and a monumental tribute to the history of a timeless pairing.

Unknown photographer, ‘John F. Kennedy,’ 1949

The Dog in Photography explores but a sample of the innumerable relationships humans have had with their dogs over the last two centuries, with a stunning showcase of snapshots by world-famous photographers including Man Ray, Eric Fischl, Wolfgang Tillmans, and, of course, William Wegman. In turn, Queen Victoria, John F. Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor are among the iconic figures exhibited with their loving hounds in front of the lens.

Accompanying the photographs are poems by the likes of Walt Whitman, Edith Wharton, and Rudyard Kipling. Corresponding essays explore the relationships formed between dogs and their human caretakers, as well as the history of dogs in photography.

Bruce Davidson, ‘East 100th Street, Harlem, New York,’ 1966

In 1839, Louis-Jacques Mandé and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce—both French, the first an artist, the latter, a chemist—popularized photography in its primal format: the daguerreotype, “a process by which light-induced images were fixed permanently on a plate,” according to a chapter in The Dog in Photography titled “Catching the Sun—Seeing the Light: from Portraiture to Pictorialism.”

At around the same time, an Englishman by the name of William Henry Fox Talbot invented the “talbotype,” also known as the “calotype,” by which “unlimited paper positives [could be derived] from a single paper negative.” This would serve as the foundation of modern photography.

Studio Begue & Kindermann, c. 1890

Thus the book’s timeline begins that very year, when Queen Victoria ruled England along with much of the world beyond Britain’s borders. A formidable and visionary ruler, Victoria led her people into a new age of industry and globalization. The Queen was an avid supporter of photography as a technological marvel and, with her patronage, it became an important method for documenting the world (and its resident pups) like never before.

A mid-19th-century image of a dog’s gravestone, rendered by Talbot himself, is credited as the world’s first canine photograph. Early photographic processes were too slow to capture squirmy (living) animals, but the public’s desire to memorialize their pets created high demand for the cutting-edge technology to do so. As soon as it became available, the field exploded with all manner of dog photos: some proud, others silly, but all adoring.

Elena Lusenti, 2016

Fast forward to the 20th century when photography was integrated into the visual avant-garde, and dogs transformed from passive, lowly creatures in need of human mercy into empowered subjects with a “social conscience” all their own, as Merritt notes.
In the 1970s, William Wegman’s brand of conceptualism placed dogs—particularly, the Weimaraner—in a unique light as the autonomous subject. “Collaborat[ing] with them to ridicule the ignobility of man,” Merritt writes, Wegman’s Weimaraners are humorous yet soulful creatures worthy of the human gaze.

William Wegman, ‘To Sleep,’ 1995

“Wegman once commented that dogs make us feel better, and they do,” reads the chapter titled “Closing the Circle: From Acceptance to Absorption.” It goes on: “They often become true soul mates. They manifest whimsy, evoke pathos, and exude elegance. And perhaps for these reasons, the dog remains a recurrent metaphor and symbol for the contemporary artist.”

Through a heartwarming breadth of images, The Dog in Photography presents the pup’s unspoken narrative throughout the centuries. It underscores the ways in which dogs provide their human companions with a profound kind of love, and in doing so, teach us how to love in return.

‘The Dog in Photography’

“From the 19th century right through to today, we see how the camera has been the key witness to our abiding affection for dogs, capturing their beauty, character, joy, and abiding friendship,” explains Taschen. And these photographs “are testimony if ever there was one that dogs are not only best friends, but also pure photographic inspiration.”

The Dog in Photography will be available for purchase in May 2018.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article