Karl Weschke

Feeding Dog

1976–7

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1977 x 1523 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Tate Friends St Ives 1994
Reference
T06900

Display caption

Whether his subject is mythological or autobiographical, Weschke frequently depicts animals in his paintings. In the 1960s and 1970s he made a number of paintings of horses and dogs. This one shows the artist's own dog, a Borzoi called Dankoff, standing astride a piece of meat as if guarding it. Weschke has described the picture as 'a dog in a particular landscape in a given circumstance' but has observed that because of his singular appearance, this dog took on a symbolic role for him, evoking strong memories of particular events in his childhood. Here Dankoff is seen on the cliff by the artist's house at Cape Cornwall. The barren landscape reinforces a feeling of defensiveness and isolation.

Gallery label, September 2004

Technique and condition

The following entry is based on an interview with the artist held on 5 December 1995.

Painted on commercially-primed canvas; probably Winsor & Newton G that Weschke is known to have been using in the 1970s. The canvas has a heavy plain weave that is well sealed with a size layer under the white oil priming. The soft-wood stretcher has been assembled from odd sections of machine-made stretcher bars.

Paint was applied wet-in-wet with a brush yet the image is constructed from several successive layers that were allowed to dry before painting continued. Differences in the speed of drying of the various layers have led to slight contraction crackle in the black paint on the dog's head and wrinkles in its legs. Weschke used oil and turpentine in his paint, often with earth colours, particularly umbers and ochres, but also venetian red. Umber was used because he prefered a fast drying paint. The artist used umber as a drier in other colours, for ochres, for example; 'If I have an ochre that I want to stay really ochre and I want to feed umber in to it, then I have to put cobalt yellow in to it to relieve the ochre appearance.'

There is no applied surface coating. The painting is in good condition apart from several scuffs and scratches particularly in the lower region. On acquisition, the painting was given a stetcher bar lining, and the strength of the frame attachment was improved by replacing the nails with screws.
The artist selected a plain batten frame painted matt black. This was nailed to the edges of the stretcher in four sections.

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