One of the more intriguing year-end lists is one titled “The 10 Most Expensive Art Works Sold in 2019.” It’s a reminder of the haves and have not’s, documenting the rarified air of the blue chip art market and auction house records from the previous 12 months. The top price getter was a painting by French Impressionist Claude Monet, with one of his iconic haystack paintings fetching $110,474,000. In fifth place at slightly less than half that amount is a work by Pablo Picasso, titled Femme Au Chien from 1962 (above).
Picasso was certainly one of the most ardent dog lovers in the history of art. Several of the Cubist’s portraits feature sitters who are painted alongside a dog, and this painting features Kaboul, his Afghan Hound, staring out at the viewer in a loveable pose in front of his mistress. Kaboul is so attention-grabbing in this painting, you’d do well not to overlook that he’s standing at attention with the artist’s wife, Jacqueline Roque. This is one of six portraits that Picasso painted of the duo, highlighting Roque’s affection for Kaboul, as well as Picasso’s love for the both of them. The artist once remarked: “Often, if [Kaboul] comes into my mind when I am working, it alters what I do. The nose on the face I am drawing gets longer and sharper. The hair of the woman I am sketching gets longer and fluffy.” There’s little doubt that the artist’s greatest muse may have been four-legged.
Another favorite “dog” painting that appeared at auction in 2019 and sold for a more modest price of $19.6 million is a fine painting by Gustave Caillebotte, Richard Gallo et son chien Dick, au Petit-Gennevilliers (1894). The impressionist painting depicts the artist’s good friend out for a walk with his beloved black Poodle. Man and dog are shown striding in full profile and dapper appearance along the banks of the Seine. Caillbotte was also a lover of dogs, and a canine figure appears in one of his other well-known works Le Pont de l’Europe.