In 1995, David Hockney staged an exhibition Dog Days at Yorkshire’s Salts Mill, displaying 45 paintings of his sausage dogs, Stanley and Boodgie. Known for his preference to portray family members, lovers or close friends instead of strangers, Hockney created art that, in many ways, unveils deeply intimate dimensions of his personal experience and lifelong relationships. The artist’s 1990s works display his newfound interest in dogs, a yet another example of the personal subject matter that defines his paintings and portraits.
Dog Etching No. 14 depicts the two dogs curled up together in a bolster bed. A similar scene features in Hockney’s Dog 43 Poster created for the Salts Mill exhibition. While the artist’s paintings of sausage dogs are most often associated with the vibrant pastel colour palette exemplified by the exhibition poster, this etching offers a more minimalist take on the subject. Although affectionate and lighthearted in apppearance, the pet portraits are rooted deeply in the context of personal loss. Hockney started to paint his dogs after the death of his close friend Henry Geldzahler, the American curator of contemporary art. He commented in this context: “I wanted desperately to paint something loving… I felt such a loss of love I wanted to deal with it in some way. I realised I was painting my best friends. [...] They’re like little people to me. The subject wasn’t dogs but my love of the little creatures.”