Entente Cordiale or Bulldog Spirit?

The painting Entent Cordiale currently on display in Breed: The British and their Dogs seems all the more poignant today following British prime minster David Cameron’s EU referendum speech yesterday. The painting was commissioned to commemorate a series of political agreements between France and Britain in the early 20th century. It depicts an English and French bulldog, both British breeds.

Entente Cordiale by Fannie Moody. The paiting depicts an English and French bulldog.

Entente Cordiale by Fannie Moody (Mrs. Gilbert King) 1861-1947. The Kennel Club.

 

If you haven’t already seen the painting or the exhibition pop down to Manchester Museum tonight for our Breed After Hours event. The event is free and starts at 6pm, you’ll be able to explore the exhibition, meet some real life dogs and their breeders, and Manchester University academics currently researching the history of British dog breeding! For further details visit http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/whatson/exhibitions/breedthebritishtheirdogs/

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A Very British Bark

Over the past several months I’ve been working closely with colleagues from the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, the University of Manchester, to produce our latest temporary exhibition Breed: The British and their Dogs. This fascinating exhibition is a cultural exploration of  pedigree dog breeding, a phenomenon which began in 19th century Britain, and focuses on the captivating histories of six specific breeds.

With only four weeks to go before we open on Saturday 6th October objects are beginning to arrive from a whole host of generous lenders including museums, libraries, and dog breeding clubs. The exhibition combines a wonderful array of objects including decorative art, social history and natural science. There will be over one hundred objects on display, each of which illustrate the enduring and affectionate relationship between Britons and their dogs.

The bulldog holds a particularly prominent place in British history and is one of the six focus breeds. It has been portrayed as both sinner and saint over the past several centuries and the exhibition charts this variable status. Salford Museum has very kindly loaned us a  late 19th century jug  which depicts the rather disturbing role of the bulldog as used in bear-bating. The use of the bulldog in this now illegal blood sport earned it a fearsome and ferocious reputation.

Bear-baiting jug. UK, 19th century, porcelain. Salford Museum.

Over the next several weeks I’ll share more of the fantastic objects destined for display with you and reveal more about the remaining five focus breeds!