One of things I wanted to do in Saint Louis was visit the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog. It’s located in a beautiful neighborhood across from Queeny Park.
We garmined our way there during a thunderstorm that had caught us out at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Now, I will preface this by saying I had the hours wrong in my mind. I thought it was open until 5:00 and it turned out that it was only open until 4:00 on Saturdays. We got there a little after 3:00. Sue had picked up somewhere 2 for the price of 1 tickets to the Museum. We promptly produced them and paid, only to be told by the receptionist that we had 15 minutes in which to view the collection. I was stunned, thinking we couldn’t possibly see the artwork in only 15 minutes!
The AKC Museum was one of my priorities for my Saint Louis trip. I’ve always liked dog and horse paintings and have painted Pugs for a couple of years. So, when told we had only 15 minutes, I immediately began to wonder whether we shouldn’t come back the next day instead. At that point, the docent told us that she could allow us to stay for 30 minuntes and come back tomorrow for free. That was better. A colleague arrived at that point from the gift shop and was immediately asked by the first lady how to do a refund. The issue was apparently going to be decided for us. The time period available became clearer, however. The Museum wouldn’t be closed for another 45 minutes, as it was only 3:15, but they would begin closing at 3:45.
Mmmmm….I have to say that these two ladies didn’t seem very enthused to have visitors arrive. As we were there, we decided to see what we could see and immediately headed for the stairwell. The larger number of paintings were upstairs. There were also sculptures and porcelain figurines to be seen, but since I’m a painter and didn’t know whether we’d make it back again — we had only managed to view the excellent museum at the Cahokia Visitors Center earlier and because of the rain, hadn’t been able to walk on the actual grounds, so I knew we would also be returning there, which would take considerable time — I decided to concentrate on the paintings and see as much as I could see. The stairwell was very dark. There were small windows letting light in from outside, but only a few of the many ceiling lights were turned on. I called over to the desk to see if we could have any more lights turned on in the stairwell and received a very abrupt “No! It’s only dark in there because of the rainstorm.” (So, what were all those other lights and lightbulbs there for anyway?)
We carried on looking. The collection is excellent and I cannot urge others strongly enough to seek out this little gem of a museum. I can only guess that the ladies had a particular reason for making absolutely certain they got out on time that Saturday. It was St Patrick’s Day. Perhaps they were Irish, I don’t know. I enjoyed the collection very much and would like to go back someday. There is a juried art show there every year to which I would like to submit work. If I am admitted, I would go down to St Louis again.
There are two portraits by Roy Anderson, both lovely, at the Museum. I liked the fact that Mayan designs were painted suggestively in the backgrounds to enhance the origin of the dog’s breeding.
A Meissen Pug is one of the things I most covet as objet d”art.
Japanese Chins by Cleanthe Carr
I’m becoming familiar with some of the names of the most accomplished dog painters (besides Edwin Landseer, that is): John Emms (English, 1864-1912), Maud Earl (English, 1864-1943), Arthur Wardle (English, 864-1949). Note that these artists are all English. “The influence which the Queen (Victoria) had on her subjects cannot be underestimated. Her love of animals, her active support of animal causes and her great love of animal portraits, can only have served to instil similar interests in her subjects,” according to William Secord in Dog Painting: A History of the Dog in Art. I probably love dog paintings (and horse paintings as well) both because I love the animals, but because I also love things British.