Constant Companions:
Pets in Nineteenth Century Photography

Increasingly throughout the nineteenth century, certain animals were accepted as cherished family members and, like their human counterparts, given the opportunity to be “immortalized” through photography.

Pictures of animals as well as photographic reproductions of prints and paintings of animals express prized human virtues such as loyalty and courage. Placed within the family album, photographs of beloved pets underscore the strength of familial bonds. Post-mortem photographs of animal companions also became precious keepsakes. As human-animal interactions expanded within the domestic sphere, photography reflected back to the pets’ owners, a complex and intimate relationship. As for the pets, a photographic session may have been merely an opportunity for a nap, as evident by the dogs sleeping at their owners’ feet.

This virtual experience was developed in collaboration with Library and Archives Canada (LAC) from the original co-produced installation Constant Companions: Pets in Nineteenth Century Photography (April 2018 – April 2019). It is part of an ongoing exhibitions partnership between LAC and the National Gallery of Canada.

Supported by

Scotiabank Photography Program