A monumental new work "Dog Scaffolding Sculpture" stands proudly in the Chatsworth Garden ready to greet visitors as part of the Derbyshire estate’s new exhibition opening 23 March 2019.
Artist Ben Long was commissioned to create the new piece for ‘The Dog: A Celebration at Chatsworth’ creating a playful and alert sculpture of a dog constructed entirely from metal scaffolding.
Ben explains: “Part of the challenge of working in scaffolding is overcoming the inherent lifelessness of this large scale material in order to describe organic form. While soft and cuddly is in no way achievable in steel, my ambition for Dog Scaffolding Sculpture does extend to capturing something akin to the abundant energy and playfulness that the canine species embodies.
“I wanted to make a dog because I felt it was a way to convey loyalty, guidance, protection, fun, play, acceptance, and most crucially the capacity for love. And all at a scale that would seem impossible to ignore.”
Dogs of all shapes and sizes, from royal favourites and distinguished pedigrees to determined mongrels and intelligent working dogs, feature in the exhibition.
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.
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 running of a country estate.
The family’s fondness for dogs is evident; from the 1st Duke’s childhood pet, to 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 reunited alongside 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 contributed 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.
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 charities Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Medical Detection Dogs during 2019 to help raise awareness of their valuable work.
Jo Wengler, Fundraising Relationships Manager at Hearing Dogs, said: “We see every day the positive impact that dogs have on people’s lives. They truly do deserve to be celebrated, which is why we are delighted to be involved in The Dog: a Celebration at Chatsworth. Hearing dogs not only alert people to important and life-saving sounds but they provide constant emotional support and companionship, and there are many other vital roles that man’s best friend play in society, which makes it so important to memorialise them in art. We are excited for people to see the exhibition and to join us in our celebration of our four-legged friends.”
A spokesperson: “Medical Detection Dogs is delighted to be part of the #Chatswoof exhibition as the wonder of dogs is something everyone should get to experience and the dogs we train are among the most special. Both our bio detection dogs and medical alert assistance dogs really are superheroes covered in fur. Our alert dogs save lives every day by warning their partner if they’re going to have a potentially life-threatening episode linked to conditions like diabetes, PoTs and severe allergies. Our bio detection dogs can sniff even the tiniest traces of diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and malaria, something which could lead to early diagnosis and better treatment. “
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.
Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials
The horse trials has lots of dog focussed fun from the have-a-go agility and family fun dog show to entertaining displays of tricks, games and crowd involvement showing off the skills of various breeds as well as a very special group of canine lifesavers, the UK Rescue Bears, of the National Newfoundland Display Team.
VIP tour of the exhibition with the Duchess of Devonshire
16 May (Sold Out) and 12 September
An illustrated tour of the house with the Duchess of Devonshire and curator of The Dog exhibition, Alex Hodby. Includes afternoon tea in Flying Childers, as well as entry to the house and garden on the day.
Kennel Club talk and tour
An illuminated talk by the Kennel Club on the historical development of dogs as workers and companions - in particular the rise in pet culture and decline in the use of dogs in a working context with emphasis on the growth of pedigree dog breeding, dog showing and gun sports in the 19th century.
Chatsworth Country Fair
30 August – 1 September
There are races and competitions to suit every dog and owner, from working dogs to family pets. It’s great fun for all two-legged and four-legged visitors whether taking part or watching the entertainment.
A walk with the dog (exhibition tour)
Discover more about some of the most important pieces in the The Dog exhibition, including Landseer's Trial by Jury, during an illustrated tour led by the Curator of fine arts.
Dogs are also welcome on any of the seasonal park walks:
9 July: The north park and Golden Gates
9 April and 6 August: Secrets of the Warren
15 May and 25 September: Millennium walk
25 June and 9 October: Edensor
For more information including opening hours and ticket prices, visit 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 is a national charity that trains dogs that help deaf people leave loneliness behind and reconnect with life. The dogs do this through constant companionship and emotional support, giving deaf people the confidence to reconnect with their family, friends and community around them. Equally as importantly, they help by alerting deaf people to important and life-saving sounds like the smoke alarm, intruder alarm, alarm clock and cooker timer. Their burgundy coats also signal to the public that their partners are deaf. This combination of practical assistance and lifelong friendship can be completely life-changing.
For more information, visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk
About Medical Detection Dogs:
Medical Detection Dogs trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease. It is at the forefront of the research into the fight against cancer and helping people with life-threatening diseases. Bio Detection Dogs are trained to find the odour of diseases, such as cancer, in samples such as urine and swabs. Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are trained to detect minute changes in an individual’s personal odour triggered by their disease and alert them to an impending medical event. The charity receives no government funding for its work and relies entirely on the generosity of donations from trusts and the public.
For more information visit www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk
For Chatsworth press enquiries, please contact:
Liz Bee or Steve Houghton
0115 910 1500