It’s a book Jim, but not as we know it; new ebooks in Arts

Our collection of ebooks continues to grow, and these are just a few of my current personal favourites; I can’t wait to get home to read them! You can too if you are one of our registered Victorian members.

Australian horror films, 1973-2010 [electronic resource]: Peter Shelley

McFarland & Company, 2012

McFarland & Company, 2012

This pioneering illustrated survey provides in-depth coverage of 76 horror films produced in Australia, where serial killers, carnivorous animals, mutants, zombies, vampires and evil spirits all receive the “antipodean” cinematic treatment unique to the Land Down Under.” So what are you waiting for? Pleased to note that one of my all-time favourite Australian films from any genre, Razorback, is given its due; surely one of the most disturbing cinematic visions of the Australian landscape ever!

The 100 greatest cover versions: the ultimate playlist [electronic resource] by Robert Webb

McNidder & Grace, 2012

McNidder & Grace, 2012

 ”Which Blondie Top Five was originally a flop for a West Coast power pop band? Who wrote Alice Cooper”s 1973 hit ”Hello Hurray”, and which folk singer first recorded it? Who launched their career with a tear and a cover of a little known Prince song? Where was Joe Cocker sitting when he came up with the idea of covering ”With a Little Help from my Friends?” If you can answer all or most of these questions then you probably don’t need this book; the rest of us can read on.

Kathryn Bigelow : interviews: [electronic resource] edited by Peter Keough

 

University Press of Mississippi, 2013

University Press of Mississippi, 2013

“In conversations ranging from the casual to the analytical, Bigelow explains how her evolving ambitions and aesthetics sprang from her earliest aspirations to be a painter and conceptual artist in New York in the 1970s, and then expanded to embrace Hollywood filmmaking when she was exposed to renowned directors such as John Ford, Howard Hawks, Don Siegel, Sam Peckinpah, and George Roy Hill.” That’s quite a lineage of directorial tough guys, and Bigelow’s filmography of titles such as Point Break, The Hurt Locker and K19: the Widow Maker all attest to a filmmaker ferociously drawn to the harder edge of the Hollywood genre film. And if you haven’t seen her wild and beautiful vampire movie, The Near Dark, well really…..

Star trek and American television [electronic resource] by Roberta Pearson and Máire Messenger Davies

University of California Press, 2014

University of California Press, 2014

“It’s a television show”, William Shatner points out to the authors here, and that’s precisely the approach they take with this fascinating exploration of the 1960s TV show that has taken on almost mythic status, spawning film, television and print franchises that continue to this day. Placing the series in the context of broader television history, this ground up examination of what went into making the show attempts to get beyond the mythology to figure out just why and how it became the phenomenon it is.

And what could be better than to sit back at home with an ebook and listen to an erecord, or whatever we call these things…..

Music for Book Lovers: Gentle Classics for Reading

Naxos

Naxos

 

If you’re new to this online business, we have a handy guide to get you started:  Instructions for using ebooks

New DVDs: Reef, Seashore, Shrek & Vali.

New DVDs arriving into the collection include the following releases in rock, popular and classical music, opera, dance, musical theatre, televison variety and visual arts.

Gene Kelly : anatomy of a dancer.

Warner Home Video, 2002

Warner Home Video, 2002

 

Shrek the musical : original Broadway Cast : music by Jeanine Tesori ; book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire.

Radical Media, [2013]

DreamWorks Animation, Radical Media, 2013

 

Peter Grimes : on Aldeburgh beach by Benjamin Britten.

Arthaus Musik GmbH, [2013]

Arthaus Musik GmbH, [2013]

 

The reef by Richard Tognetti, Jon Frank, Mick Sowry and Iain Grandage.

ABC, 2013

ABC, 2013

In musical theatre there is the highly acclaimed Shrek the musical, based on the smash-hit movie and featuring the original Broadway cast.  Marina Prior Live features the music theatre star performing recently at Glasshouse, Port MacQuarie.  Her Australian concert tour arrives at the Arts Centre this weekend.

Australian classical and orchestral themes are explored in The Reef co-written by conductor Richard Tognetti and featuring the great Australian Chamber Orchestra; Seashore Classics combine Australian seascapes with beautiful classical pieces performed by notable Australian soloists, orchestras and conductors.

In opera there is a performance of Benjamin Brittens’ opera Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh beach, Suffolk, and a revival of Lauro Rossi’s Cleopatra filmed at the 2008 Macerata Sferisterio Festival, Italy.  Hollywood film legends Gene Kelly and Judy Garland feature in two releases and local artist and dancer, Vali Myers, is the subject of two film by Ruth Cullen.

Marina Prior live.

Ambition Music Group ; Distributed by Fanfare Records, 2013

Ambition Music Group ; Distributed by Fanfare Records, 2013

 

Seashore classics.

ABC, 2013

ABC, 2013

 

The Judy Garland Show collection.

Infinity Entertainment, [2009]

Infinity Entertainment, [2009]

 

Vali Myers : the tightrope dancer & painted lady : 2 films by Ruth Cullen.

Ruth Cullen, 2005

Ruth Cullen, 2005

These & further DVD titles, as well as other audiovisual material can be requested through the Library’s online catalogue, for playing on audiovisual equipment in Arts during opening hours.

Cleopatra by Lauro Rossi.

Sferisterio Opera Festival, 2008

Sferisterio Opera Festival, 2008

Cleopatra can be viewed online via the Naxos Video Library, which you can enjoy from home if you’re a registered Victorian member of the State Library.

 

Victor Hugo, Rigoletto and a charming battleship

Illustrated Australian News, 1885

Illustrated Australian News, 1885

 

With the State Library’s major exhibition, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage, currently showing, I thought it might be timely to delve into just a few of the other musical works inspired by the writings of the great man. You can access them all from home if you’re one of our Victorian members.

Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi, to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after the play Le roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo

Unitel/Naxos, 1982

Unitel/Naxos, 1982

That’s right, one of the most famous of all operas (Italian or otherwise) is based on a play written by Hugo in 1832. Supposedly modelled on the antics of French King Francis I, it instantly got its young author into hot water with the authorities who saw it as a veiled attack on the incumbent King Louis-Philippe, and promptly banned it after a single performance. Hugo’s defence of the work  transformed its author into a hero fighting for freedom of speech, but it remained banned for many years in France, and even Verdi’s reworking of it into an opera  fell foul of the Austrian censors in Northern Italy who failed, however, to stop its triumphant premiere in Venice in 1851.

Claire de Lune by Yvonne Kenny

ABC/Naxos

ABC/Naxos

Hugo’s poetry has inspired composers of many different hues, and two of the loveliest settings of his verse can be found on this recital by the seriously fabulous Yvonne Kenny, accompanied by the also fabulous Martin Martineau. Gounod’s lovely song based on the poem Serenade has all of that composer’s melodic charm, while Reynaldo Hahn’s light-as-a-feather setting of Si mes vers avaient des ailes (If my verse had wings) is perhaps the most famous of all Hugo melodies.

Les Miserables (film, 1934): score by Arthur Honegger

Naxos

Naxos

Raymond Bernard’s massive four hours plus film of Hugo’s classic was made in 1934, and is still considered by many to be the definitive cinematic version of the story. You know that you’re in for something pretty special when the score is by none other than Arthur Honegger, one of the giants of French 20th century music!

Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris has attracted its fair share of cinematic attention as well, generally retitled as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and this fabulous score by the great Alfred Newman accompanies the 1939 Hollywood film starring Charles Laughton.

Naxos

Naxos

I wonder how Hugo would have felt having a warship named after him?

French warship "Victor Hugo"

French warship “Victor Hugo”

 

And don’t forget to check out our Research Guide on all things Victor Hugo and 19th century France

 

War and the arts: strange bedfellows

 And the band played on: by Robert Holden (ebook)

Hardie Grant Books, 2014

Hardie Grant Books, 2014

Robert Holden is undoubtedly one of our finest social and cultural historians, and this recent book is a timely examination of how Australians thrown onto the front lines in the First World War used music, poetry and storytelling to stay sane and keep their spirits up. “Ultimately, although the linguistic and emotional offerings that soldiers found in song, poetry and reading could never annihilate the horror of war, they could at least help to alleviate it and to reaffirm civilised values. They could also take a homesick soldier back to happier times and to memories of a distant country.” A lovely book full of extraordinary stories, and a testament to the transcendent power of the arts.

You can listen to a selection of these nostalgic songs here in the Library on these lovely discs put out by the ABC (And the band played on : music from the First World War: ABC Classics) or take yourself back in time via the online Naxos Music Library with this terrific compilation (Songs of the Great War – Keep the Home Fires Burning), which is also available at home to our registered Victorian members.

Retrospective/Naxos

Retrospective/Naxos

 

Modern art, Britain and the Great War : witnessing, testimony and remembrance: by Sue Malvern

Yale University Press, 2004

Yale University Press, 2004

I suppose it must seem somewhat counter-intuitive to many that in the age of the photograph the less “mechanical” visual arts such as painting and drawing continue to be seen as intrinsic to the documentation of war and conflict. The official war-artist programme here in Australia has been responsible for a staggering amount of remarkable art relating to the operations of Australia’s military forces, and it follows a long established British tradition which continues to this day. This fascinating book explores the work of England’s burgeoning modernist art movement at a time of social crisis, and demonstrates how the war work of many of these cutting-edge artists was not only peculiarly apt for such confronting subject matter, but also laid down the artistic foundations for so much that was to follow in the ensuing decades.

The Fringes of the Fleet: Edward Elgar, et.al.

Somm/Naxos, 2010

Somm/Naxos, 2010

Edward Elgar looked on with dismay as the horrors of the war rolled on just over the English Channel, and he composed a number of pieces specifically relating to it, some of them overtly patriotic and others of a more reflective nature. The little known but marvellous theatrical song cycle, Fringes of the Fleet,  is based on poems by Rudyard Kipling celebrating the traditions of the British navy, and was clearly aimed at bolstering morale in the grim days of 1917. It was only a short time later however that the composer wrote his Cello Concerto, a work so full of reflection and sadness that it’s hard not to see it as his truest and most profound statement on the tragedy of war and the passing of the era he had come to epitomise.

Gallipoli: screenplay by David Williamson, directed by Peter Weir

Twentieth Century Fox, 2005

Twentieth Century Fox, 2005

Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli remains one of the most powerful cinematic evocations of one of the nation’s most traumatising and defining moments. He was drawn to making the film after visiting the Gallipoli Peninsula  following the successful premiere of Picnic at Hanging Rock, and together with playwright David Williamson created the story of two young, idealistic Australians who embark on a journey which leads inexorably to the grim reality behind so much idealism and jingoism.

Some Australian lads a long way from home

Some of the boys, Mena: 1915

Some of the boys, Mena: 1915

Musicals in Town

Wicked  : original Broadway cast recording : a new musical: music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.

Decca Broadway, 2003

Decca Broadway, 2003

 

The King and I : original cast album: music by Richard Rodgers ; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein 2nd

Decca Broadway/Universal Music, 2000, 1951

Decca Broadway/Universal Music, 2000, 1951

 

Les Miserables : original London Cast: music by Claude-Michel Schönberg ; lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel (French lyrics),  Herbert Kretzmer (English adaptation).  Based on the novel by Victor Hugo

Universal Music Australia, 1998

Universal Music Australia,
1998

Major musicals currently playing or recently presented in Melbourne include several revivals of some great long-running shows such as Wicked, Les Miserables and The Rocky Horror Show, as well as classics from Broadway’s golden era such as The King and I, Guys and Dolls and Show Boat.

Guys and Dolls : original 1950 Broadway cast: music and lyrics by Frank Loesser

Naxos Musicals, 2004
Naxos Musicals, 2004

 The Rocky Horror Show : original 1981 Australian cast: music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien

Festival, 1981

Festival, 1981

Most of these and more are available on Listening Posts in the Arts Reading Room.  The online catalogue indicates which Listening Post the CD is available on.  There are eight jukebox listening posts in the Arts Reading Room, where you can listen to CDs from the audiovisual collection.

Group of people using listening post in Arts room © Andrew Lloyd

Group of people using listening post in Arts room © Andrew Lloyd

Showboat : 1932 Studio Album & 1946 Broadway Revival

Naxos, [1932,1946].

Naxos, [1932,1946].

 

Show Boat is available for listening on Naxos music library, one of the many databases available for anyone to use here in the Library via the Library’s website, or from home if you’re one of our Victorian registered users.

Into the woods : original Broadway cast: music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Brandman Productions/Image Entertainment

Brandman Productions/Image Entertainment, 1999, c1990

Sondheim’s Into the Woods was recently performed by Victorian Opera in a lively and spectacular production at the Arts Centre.  The long-awaited movie version featuring Meryl Streep as The Witch, will hit the big screen for Christmas.

The original Broadway cast featuring Bernadette Peters is also available on DVD for viewing in the Library.  This as well as other audiovisual material can be requested through the Library’s online catalogue, for playing on audiovisual equipment in Arts during opening hours.

Once : original Broadway cast recording : a new musical: music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Masterworks Broadway, Sony, 2012
Masterworks Broadway, Sony, 2012

The popular new musical Once, based on the 2007 Irish musical film, will have its Australian premiere at the Princess Theatre in Spring.  The CD is also available on listening posts in Arts.

Coming Soon for Summer…the much anticipated Strictly Ballroom plus revivals of Grease, The Lion King and La Cage aux Folles.

Chance encounters with Australian art

A chance encounter at a recent art auction viewing re-acquainted me with the lovely work of Dora Wilson, and I was delighted to find her work well represented in our own collections, as well as some personal papers and a myriad of exhibition catalogues.

Dora Wislon: Corner of Spring and Bourke Streets, Melbourne

Dora Wilson: Corner of Spring and Bourke Streets, Melbourne, c.1930-39

Born in England in 1883, she lived most of her life in Melbourne and spent a great deal of her time documenting the city and its environs in a series of beautiful paintings and sketches, culminating in her show Milestones of Melbourne at the Fine Art Society’s Gallery in 1935.

 

Fine Arts Society building, 100 Exhibition Street

Fine Arts Society building, 100 Exhibition Street

 

Known for her bright, vibrant style of painting she was an unashamed realist whose best work strikes me as presenting Melbourne as a sun filled, colourful and bustling 19th century metropolis moving comfortably into the modern era.

After the shower, Spring Street, 1937

After the shower, Spring Street, 1937

 

Apart from the sheer pleasure works like these can give, they also bear witness to the changing face of the city; is that our Dome peeking out amongst the buildings on the left in this charming picture of St. Francis’ Church?

St. Francis' Church, Melbourne, c.1935

St. Francis’ Church, Melbourne, c.1935

During her studies at the National Gallery School in the early years of the 20th century, Dora became interested in etching and studied with John Mather, also represented in our collections. She was one of the first women to apply herself to this medium in Australia, and her prints demonstrate the same freshness that radiates from her paintings.

Ships at anchor, 1904

Ships at anchor, 1904

 

Unidentified light house on a cliff,c. 1900-10

Unidentified light house on a cliff,c. 1900-10

Lovely things. It’s amazing what a chance encounter can lead to, don’t you think?

To finish, a rather appropriate painting by John Mather

John Mather: Sir Redmond Barry's residence off Bourke Street, 1915

John Mather: Sir Redmond Barry’s residence off Bourke Street, 1915

 

The cat

I knew that my post on dogs in art would trigger a feline response…..

Spend any time on the internet and you could be forgiven for thinking everyone likes cats and they always have. Leonardo de Vinci declared “the smallest feline is a masterpiece”. Jean Cocteau described cats as the visible soul of one’s home.

"Libraries are so broadening", by Deidre Hunt. Cover image Dine Impessions of the Cat
“Libraries are so broadening”, by Deidre Hunt. Cover image – Dine Impessions of the Cat. Wodonga, Vic: 1990

Well, nearly everyone. This post is from the celebrated 18th century blogger and naturalist, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.

THE cat is an unfaithful domestic, and kept only from the necessity we find of opposing him to other domestics still more incommodious and which cannot be hunted; for we value not those people, who, being fond of all brutes, foolishly keep cats for their amusement. Though these animals, when young, are frolicsome and beautiful, they possess, at the same time, an innate malice, and perverse disposition, which increase as they grow up, and which education learns them to conceal, but not subdue. From determined robbers, the best education can only convert them into flattering thieves; for they have the same address, subtlety and desire for plunder.

Cats in ukiyo-e. Tokyo: 2012
Cats in ukiyo-e. Tokyo: 2012

They easily assume the habits of society, but never acquire its manners; for they have only the appearance of attachment or friendship. This disengenuity of character is betrayed by the obliquity of their movements, and the duplicity of their eyes. They never look their best benefactor in the face; but, either from distrust or falseness, they approach him by windings, in order to procure caresses, in which they have no other pleasure than what arises from flattering those who bestow them.

The form and temperament of the cat’s body perfectly accord with his temper and dispositions. He is jolly, nimble, dexterous, cleanly, and voluptuous. He loves ease, and chooses the softest and warmest situations for repose.

Medieval cats. London: 2011
Medieval cats. London: 2011

Young cats are gay, vivacious, and frolicsome, and, if nothing was to be apprehended from their claws, would afford excellent amusement for children. But their toying, although always light and agreeable, is never altogether innocent, and is soon converted into habitual malice. As their talents can only be exerted with advantage against small animals, they lie in wait, with great patience and perseverance, to seize birds, mice and rats, and without instruction, become more expert hunters than the best trained dogs.

Cats on quilts. New York: 2000

Cats on quilts. New York: 2000

They have a natural antipathy to water, cold and bad smells. They are fond of basking in the sun and of lying in warm places. They are also fond of perfumes, and willingly allow themselves to be taken and caressed by persons who carry aromatic substances. They are so delighted with valerian root that it seems to throw them into a transport of pleasure.

Cats in the Louvre. Paris: 2007
Cats in the Louvre. Paris: 2007

Cats eat slowly, and with difficulty: their teeth are so short and ill placed, that they can tear, but not grind their food. Hence they always prefer the most tender victuals, as fishes, which they devour either raw or boiled. They drink frequently; their sleep is light; and they often assume the appearance of sleeping, when they are only meditating mischief.

Curious cats in the National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourn: 2012
Curious cats in the National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne: 2012

Cats walk softly, without making any noise. As their hair in always clean and dry, it is easily electrified, and the sparks become visible when it is rubbed across with the hand in the dark. Their eyes also sparkle in the dark like diamonds, and seem to throw out, in the night, the light they imbibe during the day.

The Cat in art. New York: 2007
The Cat in art. New York: 2007

Though cats live in our houses, they are not entirely domestic. Even the tamest cats are not under the smallest subjection, but may rather be said to enjoy perfect liberty; for they act to please themselves only; and it is impossible to retain them a moment after they choose to go off. Besides, most cats are half wild. As the cat may be considered only half domestic; he forms the shade between domestic and wild animals.

Cats, wild and domestic, from Buffon's Natural History, V.4, London:1812
Cats, wild and domestic, from “Buffon’s Natural History”, V.4, London:1812

Translated, with notes and observations by William Smellie, member of the Antiquarian and Royal Societies of Edinburgh. Adapted and edited for the State Library of Victoria by Dominique Dunstan, Arts Collection  Librarian, member of the National Gallery of Victoria and Melbourne Zoological Gardens

 

Paris and its people: “La plus ça change…”

Anna Welch from our History of the Book collection whets our appetite for all things Victor Hugo:

To complement the library’s upcoming major new exhibition in the Keith Murdoch Gallery, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables: From Page to Stage (18 July – 9 November), some French rarities from the State Library of Victoria’s collection are currently on display in our permanent exhibition, Mirror of the World.

The Atlas des anciens plans de Paris (Atlas of ancient maps of Paris; Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1800) shows the French capital as it was in the medieval period, a walled city surrounded by farmland. This atlas, along with other books recording the administrative mapping of Paris, was donated to the people of Victoria by the French Government in 1881, following the International Exhibition that was held in Melbourne. Also part of this donation was Charles Marville’s Photographic Views of Paris, which recorded the city before, during and after its modernising renovations (1853–70) by Baron Haussmann, Napoléon III’s chief urban planner. Two original Marville prints are on display in Mirror of the World, with 27 others on display in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables: From Page to Stage.

Atlas des anciens plans de Paris, 1800

Atlas des anciens plans de Paris, 1800

Although the city of Paris changed radically during Hugo’s lifetime, its remodelling coincided almost exactly with the period of his political exile from France, as an opponent of Napoléon III (1851–70). Les Misérables was written between 1845 and 1862, but is set 1815–33, in a vanished city.

To populate his vision of this lost Paris in his great novel, Victor Hugo drew on established character ‘types’ that embodied generic figures of mid-19th-century French society. Such character types were instantly recognisable to Hugo’s original readership, having been popularised by illustrated French encyclopaedias published from early 1840s onwards. These books frequently reproduced images that were derived from earlier (often 17th-century) sources. A volume of one such encyclopaedia, Les Français peints par eux-mêmes; types et potraites humoristiques a la plume e la crayon (The French painted by themselves; types and humourous portraits in pen and pencil; Paris, J. Phillippart, c. 1877) is currently on display in the Mirror of the World. It was edited by Honoré de Balzac, one of Hugo’s contemporaries and himself a major author. It features drawings, such as this humourous typology of poets, by Paul Gavarni, Jacques Callot, Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, and many others.

Les Français peints par eux-mêmes, 1876-78

Les Français peints par eux-mêmes, 1876-78

The description for one, ‘The Romantic’, cheekily claims “He assures us that, if he (only) took the trouble, he would eclipse Victor Hugo; but for now he is content to relax by writing more serious studies, through poetry.” The caricature bears more than a passing resemblance to some famous portraits of Hugo, head in hand, which can be seen in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables: From Page to Stage.

The Romantic type

The Romantic type

Anna Welch

To find out more about all things Hugo check out our marvellous Research Guide

New Listening: Mozart, Blunt, Buble & Trio

Some new CD arrivals feature on the Listening Posts in Arts.  They include recent releases in pop, rock, country, opera and world music. The online catalogue indicates which Listening Post the CD is available on.

There are eight jukebox listening posts in the Arts Reading Room, where you can listen to CDs from the audiovisual collection.

25 years : the chain : hit and rarities by Fleetwood Mac.

Warner Bros, 2012

Warner Bros, 1992, 2012

 

Like Clockwork by Queen’s of the Stone Age.

Matador Inertia, 2013

Matador Inertia, 2013

 

To be loved by Michael Buble.

Warner Music Australia, 2013

Warner Music Australia, 2013

Superstar group Fleetwod Mac celebrate 25 years on The Chain in a compilation of popular tracks such as Tusk, Sara and Gypsy – great memories!  English rock supremo, James Blunt, features on Moon Landing, to be performed on his forthcoming World Tour.   Legendary crooner, Michael Buble, has a new hit release with To Be Loved, that includes vintage standards such as It’s a beautiful day, and duets with Reese Witherspoon and Bryan Adams on Something stupid and After all.

There is also Like Clockwork by US heavy metal band, Queen’s of the Stone AgeTraces of you features sitarist and composer, Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the legendary Ravi Shankar and half-sister of singer-songwriter, Norah Jones, who performs vocals on three tracks.  There is also the wonderful country-pop music Trio of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, and a collection of Mozart Arias performed by Australian Opera singer, Emma Matthews.

Traces of you by Anoushka Shankar.

Deutsche Grammophon, 2013

Deutsche Grammophon, 2013

 

Moon landing by James Blunt.

Warner Music, [2013]

Warner Music, [2013]

 

Trio by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.

Warner Bros. 1987, 1990

Warner Bros. 1987, 1990

 

Mozart Arias by Emma Matthews.

ABC/Universal, 2014

ABC/Universal, 2014

 

And don’t forget to try out our music and video streaming databases, which you can find right here!

 

Group of people using listening post in Arts room © Andrew Lloyd

Group of people using listening post in Arts room © Andrew Lloyd

 

Woof woof woof: or the dog in art…..woof

Now for some total self-indulgence! Having just welcomed two beautiful Whippets into the family (don’t get me started…), it seems like the ideal time to explore the central, if under-appreciated, place of the dog in art.

Dogs in Australian art : a new history of antipodean creativity by Steven Miller

Wakefield Press, 2012

Wakefield Press, 2012

Steven Miller is one of the few local art historians to clearly recognise the central place our canine companions occupy in the history of Australian art: “The various stylistic shifts which have occurred, the debates about abstraction and figuration, the rivalries between schools and cities are attributed to sociological, historical and personal factors, when the real cause was all the while sitting under our tables.”. Sensibly arranged by breed so that you can immediately go to the Ws (or wherever else you choose), the author’s commentary manages to be both entertaining and enlightening on both the dogs and the artwork, with more than a little Australian history thrown in for good measure. Really delightful!

The dog : 5000 years of the dog in art by Tamsin Pickeral

Merrell, 2008

Merrell, 2008

5000 years of dogs in art, heaven! This large and beautifully illustrated volume charts the visual depiction of the dog from cave paintings right through to the here-and-now. The chapters are arranged thematically rather than chronologically, so we get the religious dog, the domestic dog, the hunting dog, the Romantic dog, etc., etc. As a work of art/historical scholarship it’s quite amazing, but it is also deeply imbued with the author’s passion for all things canine and is full of surprisingly moving imagery; Theodore Gericault’s Portrait of a Bulldog is a remarkably touching depiction of a fellow usually assigned the tough-guy role.

Theodore Gericault Portrait of a Bulldog, 1816-18

Theodore Gericault: Portrait of a Bulldog, 1816-18

Dogs in the Louvre by François Nourissier, Élisabeth Foucart-Walter

Flammarion, 2007

Flammarion, 2007

The French have a wonderfully relaxed attitude regarding dogs and where they can and can’t go, and even the mighty Louvre is full of them; on the walls at least! I think my favourite in this casual dog-spotting exercise is the benign mutt partially hidden behind a seated figure in Louis Le Nain’s painting, The Cart: sweet old thing.

Louis Le Nain, The Cart, 1641

Louis Le Nain: The Cart, 1641

 

Best in show : the dog in art from the Renaissance to today: Edgar Peters Bowron, et. al.

Yale University Press, 2006

Yale University Press, 2006

This lovely book was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name (who could resist?) held at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2006. Taking as its starting point some of those wonderful, noble hounds that populate so many Renaissance landscapes and portraits, its main emphasis rests on depictions from the 19th century onwards when artists from Edwin Landseer to Lucien Freud happily moved the dog from the background into the centre of the frame; quite right!

 

A soldier’s best friend, from our Picture Collection:

Australian soldier with a dog by Charles Edward Boyles

Australian soldier with a dog by Charles Edward Boyles