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Like much social realism, The Dogs shows people engaged in group or communal activities. This painting is closely related to W P Frith’s Derby Day, which is on display in room 15. While Frith set his painting of a crowd against the back drop of the famous horse race at Epsom, Weight chose the urban and more working-class setting of Wandsworth dog track in south west London.

Frith’s social panorama suggests a corruptible society, whereas Weight’s affectionate depiction of the crowd dispersing into the twilight evokes a sense of fleeting companionship.

September 2004