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from Dog Painting, 1840-1940, A Social History of the Dog in Art
by William Secord

The reign of Queen Victoria spanned some sixty-four years and saw tremendous changes within England and across the globe. Victoria ascended the throne during an expansionary and optimistic period. By the end of her reign, the Empire upon which the sun never set was slowly receding into shadow and a society once based on land and the wealth of the privileged few had changed to reflect a new society based more in the cities than the beautiful stately homes of rural England.

One can only conjecture as to whether this population shift from the country to the city left in people a longing for nature and the gentler forms of human endeavor. There can be no doubt, however, that the English people, led by their much esteemed Queen Victoria, found comfort from the daily toils of Victorian England by returning home to their favorite pet, the dog.

In addition to its role as a pet, the dog continued to be used in the sporting field, and in the latter half of the nineteenth century the purebred dog was exhibited in the increasingly popular dog shows. Breeds which had been popular in eighteenth century Britain such as the Foxhound, the Greyhound, and the Mastiff continued to flourish. Pointers, Setters and Spaniels also continued to be popular in the field, but they were soon appropriated -- as were the vast majority of breeds -- by the quickly developing world of the dog show.

The dog, once essential in hunting and farming societies, now became an animal to be exhibited, and the finer points of his anatomy compared with others of his type. While dog shows increased in number and people were attracted to breeding purebred dogs for show, many in the countryside continued to use the dog for sport.

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