Animal portraiture was a popular genre in the 1700s, and many wealthy owners commissioned artists to paint their pets. This painting appears to have been a personal project however, as Tristram andFox were Gainsborough’s own dogs. Tristram is the dark spaniel on the right, and Fox is the expressive tri-coloured dog at centre.
Tristram and Fox
Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788) was a British painter, draughtsman and printmaker. Best known for his portraiture, he was the most successful artist in this genre by the mid-1770s. Whilst portraits earned him his living, he preferred to paint landscapes. He was a founding member or the Royal Academy of Art, but fell out with them over the hanging of his pictures several times, and refuses to exhibit there after 1784, staging exhibitions in his own studio instead.