Roger Salmon column

Roger Salmon
Roger Salmon

As I write this article I am in the process of getting my paintings ready to enter in The Lancaster and District Art exhibition in Lancaster City Museum which is open for viewing from October 25.

I am reminded of all the animals that have been portrayed in famous paintings such as Hogarth’s dog, Trump, seated beside him in his self portrait.

Trump was a pug whose features serve as an emblem of the artist’s own pugnacious character.

Hogarth was not alone in liking the breed as Josephine Bonaparte and Prince William of Orange were also fans.

Prince William spent months on military manoeuvres and took his dog, a pug, for companionship.

One night the Spanish planned a stealth attack, overpowered the sentries and killed two of the prince’s secretaries.

While William slept, his dog heard a noise, scratched at his master until he awoke, giving him time to escape on his horse, thus saving his life.

In contrast, a man not enamoured of the breed was Napoleon Bonaparte and he passed legislation making it illegal to name any dog Napoleon.

As a widow Josephine was attracted to powerful men such as Napoleon and within four months of meeting they were married.

But on their wedding night Josephine refused to banish her pet pug, Fortune, from the bedroom and he launched himself at Napoleons shin, bit it so deeply that he carried the scar to his dying day.

Understandably Napoleon wanted Josephine to give up her dogs as they were costing too much, partly due to the fact that Josephine insisted that the dogs slept on Cashmere shawls and only walked on oriental carpets.

Those early pugs had a much more pronounced nose, as illustrated by Hogarth.

Over the centuries, selective breeding has created dogs with a much more childlike face and hence modern pugs suffer from more respiratory problems.