Friday, March 25, 2011

Pets of the Belle Époque: “A Girl with Dogs” by Charles Burton Barber, 1893

Girl with Dogs
Charles Burton Barber, 1893
The Lady Lever Art Gallery
A popular subject matter of the late Nineteenth Century was the sentimental portrait of a child and his/her pets. Near the end of his life, painter Charles Burton Barber painted several such paintings, not so much out of a deep love for the subject, but because he knew they’d sell. And, sell they did.

Soap magnate Lord Leverhulme purchased this painting in 1901 for the purpose of using it in advertisements for Lever Brothers soap. The image of the little girl projected an innocent quality as she struggled to carry two puppies in her skirts while their nervous mother and sibling look on. As was often the case with Lord Leverhulme, he purchased the painting for business, but kept it for pleasure. It still resides in the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool.

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