William Wegman, Spic and Chow/Span and Chow (1975), $40,000. Sperone Westwater, Frieze Masters. Photo: © David Owens

Frieze London 2019

Who let the dogs in? We sniff out the best pooch portraits to purchase at Frieze London

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Over all the art-world chatter? From Hogarth’s pug called Trump to a pup picture fit for a French king, we embrace puppy love in the tent

There’s nothing like a stroll between Frieze London and Frieze Masters to clear the mind after all that art-world chatter in the fair aisles. The air is crisp, the leaves are yellowing and the pitter-patter of pooch paws is all around. But it is not only Regent’s Park that is home to cockapoos, maltipoos and labradoodles—the fairs are also getting their fair share of doggy love. We sought out the best in show.

Lucian Freud, Eli (2002), £140,000. Matthew Marks Gallery, Frieze London
Lucian Freud, Eli (2002), £140,000. Matthew Marks Gallery, Frieze London. Photo: © David Owens

Lucian Freud arguably painted his beloved whippets with much more affection and compassion than his human sitters. Eli and Pluto, Freud’s other whippet, appear in many of his works, sometimes alongside his two-legged sitters. Though their slim physique might not suggest it, the breed’s propensity to lounge decoratively for long periods makes them the perfect artist’s dog. This etching is one of an edition of 46.

William Hogarth, Gulielmus Hogarth Se ipse pinxit & sculpsit (1749), sold for undisclosed sum; and William Hogarth, The Bruiser C.Churchill… in the Character of a Russian Hercules (1763), £1,200. Andrew Edmunds, Frieze Masters
William Hogarth, Gulielmus Hogarth Se ipse pinxit & sculpsit (1749), sold for undisclosed sum; and William Hogarth, The Bruiser C.Churchill… in the Character of a Russian Hercules (1763), £1,200. Andrew Edmunds, Frieze Masters. Photo: © David Owens

This Hogarth self-portrait with his pug called Trump is “very rare”, says the dealer Andrew Edmunds. After making the etching, Hogarth reworked the plate and replaced his likeness with the image of a bear named Bruiser in a work lampooning the satirist Charles Churchill. He also added in a few extra details—as he often would when reworking plates—including a stream of urine trickling down on one of the writer’s works.

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, White Greyhound (1748), £250,000. Didier Aaron, Frieze Masters The 18th-century artist Jean-Bapt
Jean-Baptiste Oudry, White Greyhound (1748), £250,000. Didier Aaron, Frieze Masters. Photo: © David Owens

The 18th-century artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry famously painted Louis XV’s hunting dogs, often in the presence of the king himself. The portraits of the royal hounds all have the animal’s names—such as Misse or Polydore—inscribed beneath them in gold. This female hunting dog, though, in her sky-blue collar, does not have a name and her owner is unknown. The portrait is “not sentimental” so appeals to a wider range of collectors, according to a gallery spokesman.

Grayson Perry, Black Dog (2004), £285,000. Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, Frieze Masters
Grayson Perry, Black Dog (2004), £285,000. Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, Frieze Masters. Photo: © David Owens

The term “black dog” to describe depression is usually associated with the former UK prime minister Winston Churchill but was used at least as far back as the 18th century by Samuel Johnson. Grayson Perry’s ceramic work of the same name is about the “roots of depression: emotional trauma and turmoil”, he said after completing it. The pooch on the pot was inspired by a childhood event when two dog walkers almost stumbled upon the young Perry experimenting with cross-dressing in an abandoned house.

William Wegman, Nosey (1972), $22,000. Sperone Westwater, Frieze Masters
William Wegman, Spic and Chow/Span and Chow (1975), $40,000. Sperone Westwater, Frieze Masters. Photo: © David Owens

In 1970, William Wegman bought a Weimaraner puppy and named it Man Ray, inspired by the 1966 show of the artist’s work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Wegman never intended to use the dog in his work but, Angela Westwater says, the pet “wanted Bill’s attention and affection”, and so the artist started to photograph and film him—often with a wry humour and surreal bent. Wegman has since had numerous Weimaraners and the breed is inextricably linked with his work, but it all began with Man Ray.