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The canine metaphor in the visual arts

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Chapter Summary

In the post-Classical world, dogs became part of the visual discourse of Christianity as ?earthy emblems? of virtue. A dog was the constant companion of St. Dominic and eventually adopted as a symbol of the Dominican order?s faithfulness and piety. Throughout the history of art, the relationship of man and dog has provided a metaphorical language that permits artists to explore the best and worst of human character and behavior. In sacred and secular environments, symbolizing fidelity and loyalty, or-at other times and places-serving as reminders of human aggression and violence, dogs have provided rich symbolic language for exploration of the human psyche and for introspection on the nature of the human condition. In view of the range of possibilities that canine metaphors embody, they are likely to remain part of the visual arts for as long as human life survives.

Keywords: canine metaphor; Christianity; human psyche; violence; visual arts



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