Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fontainebleau: Avoir du chien !

What would the home be without our furry friends? More sweet smelling? Less hairy? Yes, well, in any case, many are there among us who would find something missing without an animal in the house. I was reminded how very doting the relationship has been even for kings the other day at the Chateau of Fontainebleau. As the French have it, "avoir du chien" or literally,
"to have some dog" is a very good thing ! !
Which means, more accurately, TO HAVE OOMPH !
The expression often refers to an attractive woman, but in this case, it's the dogs who are stealing the show.

The chateau of Fontainebleau is a magnificent site that represents 800 years of royal tradition. It is an architectural and decorative splendor composed through time and originally favored
for the proximity of its forest - a hunting paradise.
Naturally the relationship between man and dog here was strong. This painting snapped in passing in the chateau shows many a pup and care was taken to label each one with his name.
(Apologies for the awkward photo and nasty glare on the painting.)

Clearly, these pampered pets had more than one kind of flair.

Effigies of these faithful friends were enlisted for tasks other than hunting.

detail of desk

Fetch, Rex !
panelling in the Francois I gallery

Beneath  frescos by Primaticcio in the Rennaissance gallery of Francois I,
reverent hounds frame the king's salamander symbol.

photo chateau de Fontainebleau

The garden of Diana takes its name from the bronze statue of the Huntress, copy of the antique Roman marble created by Francini and placed here in 1603. The original statue is today in the Louvre; this one dates to 1684. Surprisingly, the dogs by sculptor Pierre Biard date to 1603
and were part of the original group.

source le chien dans l'art

Fine Lise and Lise pose with a forest warden under  Louis XV
in a painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755), artist famed for his representations of animals.

source le chien dans l'art

Polydore by Oudry

Art lovers who love dogs might be interested to see Le Chien dans l'art, a repertorial site dedicated to  the appearance of man's best friend in painting, etching, sculpture and decorative arts. Visiters are invited to participate by sending in photos of their discoveries.


  1. Thank you for your beautiful post and the link; I love my 'pooch' and history!

  2. Well, bow wow! Love this. The only thing missing is a picture of le style's dog.

    Did you read my comment at Soodies? I hope Scout gets a French mystery to solve. Perhaps with the help of your children?

    We don't have a dog at this moment. I'm waiting until my husband retires...at least I think I can wait that long. Am having dreams about snoodles!

  3. And thank you for reading and leaving your comment, ALAINE!

    HBD - Snoodles are adorable. I don't have a dog ! Maybe one day ... I'm waiting for Scout (with some help from Soodie) to come solve the mystery of the coat of arms on my bed. He'll have to get along with our tomcat. I'll have to explain this to Soodie, of course!

  4. Oh, I LOVE how the dogs were named in the painting!

  5. oh of course I adore this post- the painting you snapped what a treasure. Would love to see this one myself. pgt

  6. i am certain Scout will be polite to Mr. Tomcat when he ventures to france.

    i love how funky these dogs look the further back in time these works were painted.

  7. Art - yes, and the names show that these are real portraits !

    Gaye - I'm sorry I couldn't get a better view of it, but since I haven't seen it elsewhere I 'm glad I got it at all! Of course, seeing it in person is the best solution!!!!

    Soodie - I have no doubts about your urbaine little Westie ! And now you know my bed mystery needs solving. Please go to http://le-style-et-la-matiere.blogspot.com/2010/01/dreams-and-realities-in-decoration.html where I so brashly show this intimate object chez moi. It's really a desperate cry for help in disguise!

  8. very intersting post.
    ...and the art is fabulous.

    the link is pretty great too.
    thanks xx

  9. Elegant Paintings of dogs, Looking at the way they Bowed them up , we haven't changed much after all these years. I think Bows on dogs are silly. Beautiful post. Thank you so much. yvonne

  10. The serendipity of the 'poor snapshot' makes the posting, and is of course aided greatly by the furniture details and sculpture. But the snapshot places us there.