Thursday, February 19, 2015

Painting of the Day: A Jack in Office, 1833

A Jack in Office
Sir Edwin Landseer, 1833
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Ha!  Early Nineteenth political humor (humour).  You see, when this painting was finished, a slang expression for a pompous government official was "a jack in office." And, that’s what this painting is called.  But, it's not a governmental, it's a doggie.  A Jack Russell Terrier!  Ha!  Oh, Edwin Landseer, you slay me with your canine antics.

All teasing aside, I do like this painting by the always wonderful Landseer and I think it's quite clever.  Completed in 1833, a critic at the time  described how "the well-fed and much caressed dog…keeps others from testing the food of which he has had too much." Sounds like a politician to me.

The painting was given to the V&A by John Sheepshanks in 1857

This is one of Sir Edwin's most clearly anthropomorphic treatments of human matters in canine terms.  A other critic said that the piece was "enormously popular, providing fable, parody, humour, and narrative in a single image." 

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