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Puppy love: The art of the human-canine connection

November 28, 2019

From cuddly pugs to hunting dogs and three-headed canines guarding the gates of hell, to the storied pets of David Bowie, Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine the Great, "Loyal Friends" celebrates our puppy obsession.

Ausstellung Bayerisches Nationalmuseum Treue Freunde Hunde und Menschen
Image: Bayerisches Nationalmuseum/Bastian Krack

The dog has long been humankind's most loyal friend and companion. The close relationship with mankind's favorite pet has been illustrated in art and in our cultural history in manifold ways. 

A major new exhibition at Munich's Bavarian National Museum (German: Bayerisches Nationalmuseum), "Loyal Friends - Dogs and People," illuminates the special relationship between humans and animals through high art and the culture of everyday life. 

Loans from international museums and collections, as well as little-known works sourced from the Bavarian museum, constitute a comprehensive puppy collection ranging from antiquity to the present day.

Famed dog lovers such as David BowieThomas Mann, Queen Elizabeth II, and Sisi, the storied Austrian Empress, are represented, as is a poodle diamond brooch worn by Grace Kelly, a taxidermy of the German shepherd Zorro, and the tuxedo worn by Sir Henry, Germany's most famous pug.

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The exhibition includes many genres — from an Egyptian dog mummy to medieval altar panels to a dog robot. The sections cover themes such as loyalty and friendship, servitude, status symbols, and even fantasy and erotica. The exhibition ultimately aims to reflect on our vision of humanity.

Click through the picture gallery above to explore some of the 200 works on show.

"Loyal Friends - Dogs and People" runs November 28, 2019 until April 19, 2020 at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum.

Stuart Braun | DW Reporter
Stuart Braun Berlin-based journalist with a focus on climate and culture.