Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Art and Art History


Catherine Levesque

Committee Members

Alan Braddock

Elizabeth Radcliffe


Though today animal painting is frequently associated with English painters like George Stubbs and Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, its foundations lie in the earlier work of Dutch and Flemish painters. The work of these earlier artists marks an important (if little recognized) transitional phase in popular attitudes and understandings of animals. By the 1670s, the Rotterdam-born painter Abraham Hondius had immigrated to London, leaving the Dutch Republic and its declining art market for England where the market for paintings was rapidly expanding in the late seventeenth century. Abraham Hondius’s 1677 painting The Dog Market, which entered a museum collection for the first time in 2020, provides a framework to demonstrate the complexity of animal painting and the understanding of animals that characterized the Early Modern period. By considering several interpretive strategies, this thesis demonstrates the significance of a little-known painting and artist, as well as indicates the ways in which its intricate layers of meaning can inform us of the complexity of animal painting and the understanding of animals that characterized the Early Modern period.

The Dog Market challenges the transition between a Renaissance and Classical episteme described by Michel Foucault in his 1966 book The Order of Things. With his choice of imagery for The Dog Market, Hondius appears to have drawn on both of these epistemological models and so appealed to a diverse audience. Moreover, Hondius was aware of new economic developments and quite likely intended to market this picture as a demonstration of his skill as a painter of dogs. Consequently, this painting simultaneously refers to well-established allegorical and anthropomorphic traditions of animal depiction and symbolism, to contemporary interests in taxonomy and the categorization of animals by their appearance and function, and to the period’s preoccupation with status, commodification and mercantilism.

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