Lecture | Thomas Laqueur on Dogs in 18th-C. British Art

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on September 26, 2022

From Yale University:

Thomas Laqueur | What Are Dogs Doing in Eighteenth-Century British Art?
The Twenty-Fifth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Thursday, 13 October 2022, 5.30pm

Professor Thomas Laqueur will address the ways dogs mediate human sociability and specifically how they function formally in art to bind together the various elements—human and material—of an image. He will discuss images of dogs in the studies of scholars, like the portrait of Walpole and his dog in the library at Strawberry Hill, and move on to a discussion of the various contexts in which it might be understood: from the paintings of Carpaccio and Rubens to the eighteenth century and beyond; dogs in eighteenth-century British art from Hogarth’s Self-Portrait to the many family scenes of the period; and then more generally dogs in art as they constitute part of a symbolic system—world making and critical in our social cognition. A short coda on interpreting Balak, the most famous dog in Hebrew literature, in the Isreali Nobel Prize winning novelist Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s greatest novel, Only Yesterday, will get us back to Walpole in his study and the question the lecture poses: what are all those dogs doing in eighteenth-century British art?

Thomas W. Laqueur is Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus at UC Berkeley. He has written on the history of sexuality, of death and commemoration, of religion, and of human rights and humanitarianism. His most recent book is The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains. Laqueur is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books, The Three Penny Review, and other journals. He is currently writing a series of essays each organized around what dogs are doing in canonical works of art by artists including Giotto, Piero di Cosimo, Titian, Durer, Veronese, Valasquez, and Goya, as well around other images and artifacts—paw prints on Babylonian cuneiform tiles and Neolithic rock painting.

The Lewis Walpole Library Lecture is presented in New Haven by a visiting scholar on a topic relevant to eighteenth-century studies. The first Lewis Walpole Library lecture, “The Scourge of the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Carlyle,” was delivered in 1992 by Noel Annan. For a complete list of past Lewis Walpole Library Lectures click here.

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