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The Artistic Borzoi

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Tags: Borzoi, Hunting Dog

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Figurines, metals, brass, paintings, prints, stamps, postcards: all of these media have at sometime or another carried the visage of the Borzoi. The Borzoi has been a popular art subject for quite a long time, especially during the art deco period, and he continues to be featured in movies and television shows today.

Why is the Borzoi such a popular subject for sculpture and paintings? Well, the best theory is their connection with Russian royalty and nobility. As royal dogs, the Borzoi became associated with wealth, power, and the aristocracy. They were symbols so powerful that the dogs themselves were destroyed during the Russian Revolution in 1917 for what they represented to the Soviets.

Borzoi figurines have been made by countless popular makers like Rosenthal and Hutschenruther. Even Royal Crown Derby created a famous Borzoi figurine for their National Dog collection which only contains six dog breeds. Most of the figurines date from 1914 to 1942, and they are from makers in Czechoslovakia, Bohemia, Germany, and Vienna. The dogs are usually shown running or standing.

Borzoi captured in metals and brass are also from a multitude of places. The Borzoi is often depicted here with one woman; most of the women in the representations are walking two Borzoi, and the women in the pieces are all aristocratic. These pieces can be bookends, statues, or life-sized sculptures of the Borzoi laying down or running, as well as a few examples of the dog standing.

Paintings usually depict the Borzoi standing or hunting either alone or in packs and usually accompanied by aristocratic people. The French painter Louis Icart is famous for his many paintings of Borzoi. Icart painted numerous paintings of women walking their Borzoi, including Pals, Sudden Breeze, Speed, Rendezvous, Gust of Wind, and Joy of Life. Other examples of Icart's work show women relaxing with their Borzoi: Madame Bovary, Lady of Camelias, Vola, and Symphony in White.

Because Borzoi were well-known as hunting dogs, many artists chose to show them alongside the goddess Diana, who was the huntress. Wood panels, paintings, statues, lithographs, postcards, Greek medals, tiles, and platters have all been used to represent the goddess with her hunting pack. The dogs are usually shown running or hunting, though many show Diana simply standing amongst her dog pack.

All of the depictions of Borzoi with the aristocracy or with the goddess Diana show the important role the dog had for the wealthy and powerful. The dogs are also often showing running or even in hunting parties and these depictions clearly show the Borzoi's calling as a hunting dog. Even in standing portrayals, the Borzoi are shown to be graceful and powerful, something the dogs exhibit in real life as well.

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