Shock Dog (nickname for a dog of the Maltese breed)

Anne Seymour Damer British

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 512

Portrayed life-size, the small dog attentively looks up and awaits a word or a touch from its master. In eighteenth-century Britain, small breeds like the Maltese -- known as a shock dog for its rough coat -- were beloved companions. The emotional bond between owners and their pets often were commemorated in endearing portraits like this one.

Anne Damer was celebrated as Britain’s first woman sculptor who portrayed both animals and people with memorable personal style. Noble-born and highly educated, Damer inscribed the Shock Dog with her name in Greek to recall her art’s classical origins. The engaging naturalism of this canine portrait testifies to her artistic mastery and to her empathy. At her death, Damer asked to be buried with her sculptor’s tools and the bones of her favorite dog: two life-long joys that had sustained her.

Shock Dog (nickname for a dog of the Maltese breed), Anne Seymour Damer (British, Coombe Bank, Sevenoaks, Kent 1748–1828 London), Carrara marble, British

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