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John Lewis Brown, 'The Performing Dog', probably about 1860-90

Key facts
Full title The Performing Dog
Artist John Lewis Brown
Artist dates 1829 - 1890
Date made probably about 1860-90
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 36.8 × 44.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917, The National Gallery, London. In partnership with Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
Inventory number NG3236
Location On loan: Long Loan to The Hugh Lane (2019 - 2031), Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, Ireland
Collection Main Collection
The Performing Dog
John Lewis Brown

A small dog on its hind legs performs before a middle-aged man, who lies on the grass. The man’s long white coat with a salmon-pink lining and his white gaiters have the appearance of a theatrical costume rather than everyday clothes. His raised hand and attentive gaze suggest he is teaching the dog a trick – perhaps a balancing act related to the red object on its head, which may be the man’s hat. To the right, a horse grazes. Just above its head, a reddish-brown shape in the background is a figure hiding in the hedgerow, which looks out at the man and dog, perhaps not quite sure what they are doing.

Born in France of Scottish descent, John Lewis Brown specialised in hunting and military pictures, as well as studies of horses and dogs. His pictures sometimes have a humorous aspect to them, while also showing his firm grasp of animal anatomy.

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