Dogs of all shapes and sizes, from royal favourites and distinguished pedigrees to determined mongrels and intelligent working dogs, are celebrated in Chatsworth’s new exhibition for 2019 (23 March-6 October).
Inspired by the Duchess of Devonshire’s love for her four-legged friends, ‘The Dog: A Celebration at Chatsworth’ explores stories of bravery and mischief, of working dogs and treasured companions through a myriad of paintings and objects from letters, snuff boxes, jewellery, sculpture and ceramics to embroideries, drawings and painted ceilings.
Star works from Constable, Stubbs, Gainsborough and Landseer sit alongside contemporary pieces by Lucian Freud, Jeff Koons, Antony Gormley and Elisabeth Frink to complete a wonderful celebration of dogs in art.
In the garden, the Duke and Duchess have commissioned the artist Ben Long to create an eight-metre high scaffolding sculpture of a dog. Using the most ubiquitous of materials, this site-specific piece has a monumental scale and grace not normally associated with its construction material, and is a vivid addition to the landscape.
The exhibition explores more than 400 years of the enduring bond between man and his faithful friend through generations of the Cavendish family celebrating the lives of dogs intertwined with the work of a country estate.
The family’s close association with their dogs is shown right back to the time of the 1st Duke as a child with his dog, through a poem written by Duchess Georgiana in the 18th century, a recipe for dealing with a bite from a mad dog and letters between the 9th Duke and Duchess detailing the antics of their naughty puppy Punch. The 6th Duke’s many dogs, which he celebrated in commissioned portraits, are brought together again as well as candid family photographs of Duchess Deborah and other family members with their dogs.
The Duchess of Devonshire, who has played a leading role in creating the exhibition, has lent many personal pieces which celebrate her constant companions and many of the working dogs she has bred and trained.
“I have lived with and loved dogs for as long as I can remember. They are an integral part of my life and every day I see the importance of dogs reflected in the Collection at Chatsworth. When I look out into the park or walk my own dogs Max and Treacle, I am always conscious of the pleasure that so many people get from walking their dogs. I hope this exhibition gives people an opportunity to share in our love of dogs and add their own stories to this enduring relationship.”
The exhibition looks at dogs from myths and legends, in cartoons and as companions as well as the way dogs have been venerated with extravagant pieces including silver dog collars; Fabergé pieces made from precious stones including a border terrier with rose diamond eyes and even four-poster dog beds upholstered in silk velvet and chintz.
Objects from the Devonshire Collection and the family’s private collection - including pieces shown publicly for the first time - are displayed alongside loans from public and private collections. Significant lenders include the Kennel Club, Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Science and Media Museum.
Edwin Landseer’s ‘Trial by Jury’, one of the most celebrated dog paintings of the 19th century, which uses the individual characters of the breeds of dogs to satirise the legal profession, is just one of the highlights.
For the Duchess, one of the most poignant pieces on display is a Red Cross collar, worn by a dog trained to locate dead and wounded soldiers during the First World War. Usually under the cover of night such dogs searched no man’s land between opposing trenches. The dogs were able to tell the difference between a deceased soldier and one that was unconscious. Some dogs were equipped with bottles of brandy and rope so stretcher bearers and rescue parties, including medics, could find the injured man.
Chatsworth is proud to be working with the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People during 2019 to help raise awareness of its valuable work training assistance dogs. The exhibition is being supported by Sotheby’s, the headline sponsor, and C.W. Sellors and Skinner’s, the major sponsors.
Outside the house, the #Chatswoof season will also feature lots of opportunities to get involved, from talks and tours to dog walks and dog agility.
For more information including opening hours and ticket prices, visit www.chatsworth.org/thedog
Notes to editors:
The Dog: A Celebration at Chatsworth has been co-curated by Tessa Wild, an independent curator and owner of two spirited lurchers. She is co-director of the Attingham Trust Summer School and Collections Adviser at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. A former curator for the National Trust, she curated Red House from its acquisition in 2003 until 2016 and is the author of William Morris and his Palace of Art (Philip Wilson, 2018). She is a trustee of the Emery Walker Trust.
Will Gompertz has chosen Chatsworth as one of the ten places that tell the history of England’s art, architecture and sculpture for the Historic England campaign Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places.The campaign aims to find the 100 places that bring to life England’s rich and extraordinary history.
He said: “Chatsworth is perhaps the finest example of the English stately home. There is a lot of history in its beautiful stone walls, some of which have been standing for nearly five hundred years. But it is still a living home with an energetic owner who makes sure that this historic building is still very much alive in the 21st century, sitting wonderfully – as it does – in the rolling hills of Derbyshire.”
Chatsworth has won the Best Historic Attraction in the Group Leisure & Travel Awards 2018.
The Chatsworth House Trust is dedicated to the preservation of Chatsworth House, the art collection, garden, woodlands and park for the long term benefit of the public.
The charity promotes the study and appreciation of Chatsworth as a place of historic, architectural and artistic interest and of natural beauty, and encourages the use and enjoyment of Chatsworth by visitors for education and recreation.
Chatsworth is a member of the Treasure Houses of England, 10 of the most magnificent palaces, stately homes and castles in England. www.treasurehouses.co.uk
Chatsworth is only 16 miles from the M1, 10 miles from Chesterfield, and 8 miles north of Matlock, in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park and is well served by transport links throughout the UK.
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Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744 and has established ties with Chatsworth that span generations. Since 2018 Sotheby’s have officially been the Principal Sponsor of the Arts and Exhibitions Programme at Chatsworth.
Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s presents auctions in ten different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, and Sotheby’s BidNow programme allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby's Contemporary Art department, and two retail businesses, Sotheby’s Diamonds and Sotheby’s Wine. Sotheby’s has a global network of 90 offices in 40 countries and is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID).
For further information: www.sothebys.com
About C. W. Sellors Fine Jewellery:
Located in the picturesque surroundings of the Peak District, C. W. Sellors is one of the UK’s leading independent jewellers and, as family run business, currently moving into its second generation. Bringing together their own unique British gemstone designs, alongside the finest selection of luxury jewellery and watches from the world’s leading designers and brands, they successfully operate 15 jewellery boutiques situated across the midlands and northern England – and worldwide through their numerous online boutiques.
As the company celebrate their 40-year anniversary in 2019 and with a growing team of over 140 employees, the business remains committed to finding exciting new materials and creating award-winning collections for all to enjoy.
For further information visit: www.cwsellors.co.uk
We are delighted to be sponsoring ‘The Dog: A Celebration at Chatsworth’, inspired by The Duchess of Devonshire, who is as passionate about dogs and field trials as we are, and we are excited for the collaboration to evolve throughout the year. The partnership follows a long affiliation with Chatsworth through the Kennel Club who we have had a strong relationship with over the years.
Skinner’s will be actively involved with the estate throughout the sponsorship, offering agility equipment for visitors’ dogs to enjoy, watering points throughout the grounds, as well as the opportunity for visitors to gain valuable nutritional information about our dog food products, the opportunity to try samples and receive money off vouchers.
For more information: www.skinnerspetfoods.co.uk
About Hearing Dogs for Deaf People:
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People train dogs to alert deaf people to sounds they would otherwise miss – simple sounds that many people take for granted like the doorbell, alarm clock and even danger signals like the fire alarm. Being aware of these – thanks to a hearing dog – makes a real difference to deaf people’s lives.
For more information, visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk
For Chatsworth press enquiries, please contact:
Liz Bee or Steve Houghton
0115 910 1500