By early 17th century lapdogs had become extremely popular with royalty and high society and were kept not only for companionship but were considered accessories.
Many paintings of the era depict these dogs. This painting by Jean Jacques Bachelier (1724–1806) depicts a Havanese Silk dog, which is the national dog of Cuba and its only native breed. A lot of attention is given by the artist to the luxurious dog kennel in the background, exquisitely decorated in green and ivory tones and most likely upholstered in matching velvet with gold trim. Dutch and Spanish artists such as Caspar Netscher, Peter Paul Rubens, Juan de Valdés Leal and Diego Velázquez, depicted them as symbols of fidelity and the ultimate plaything of their owners. The Bowes Museum.
The future King Charles II of England was famously depicted with a toy Spaniel, on the earliest known of his portraits, being only four months and fifteen days old (circa 1630). National Portrait Gallery.
Spaniel, a breed which later came to be associated with Charles as King, became an attribute of his portraits later in his life. Five years later, two Spaniels accompanied the future King and his younger siblings on Anthony van Dyck's painting, The Three Eldest Children of Charles I, of which many copies were made, while the original is at The Royal Collection Trust.
When Charles ultimately became King in 1660, he remained loyal to his faithful spaniels. His 1670s portrait attributed to Hendrick Danckerts (Dutch, 1625-1689), shows the two spaniels on either side of the King as symbols of the ultimate luxury, as was the pineapple, which is presented to the King by John Rose (1619–1677), the Royal Gardener.
The royal and aristocratic love affair with toy dogs continued through to the 18th century.
For the comfort of these small creatures, dog kennels quickly became fashionable additions to many sophisticated domestic interiors and thus it is not surprising that they were executed and decorated with the utmost care. Dog kennels were sometimes upholstered on top and formed tabourets. Madame de Pompadour, one of the most fashionable women of the 1700s, also had similar pieces in her apartments in the Château de Saint-Hubert in 1762: "Une niche en tabouret, pour 2 chiens". A pair of Louis XV giltwood chenils (above), of the type that Madame de Pompadour might have had, dating to 1760's, were sold from Mrs. Charles Wrightsman collection, Sotheby's, New York, 28 April, 2010, Lot 121 ($86,500).
Like Madame de Pompadour, Marie-Antoinette was a lover of canines, too. Her pets seemed to return the affection: tradition has it that her beloved dog Coco followed her mistress to her imprisonment at the Temple during the French Revolution. A niche de chien created for Marie-Antoinette by Claude I Sené is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in new York. This design proved so popular that it has been reproduced in France and the States ever since.
Another remarkable example of a French 18th century dog kennel (or is it a State Bed?) was sold Sotheby's, London, 15 May 2014, Lot 225.
Not all 18th century dog houses, however, seem to have been lavishly decorated. This austere mahogany and studded-leather covered niche-en-tabouret dating to circa 1775 and designed to resemble a Venetian window, was offered by a New York dealer Carlton Hobbs in 2010.
Our splendid dog house, or a stately home, perhaps, is a product of the late 19th - early 20th century revival of historic architectural and decorative styles. Certainly designed by an accomplished architect, and possibly to compliment the existing decorative scheme of a house, it combines a certain neoclassical formality with almost theatrical playfulness; it is a decorative accessory in itself, a statement object, yet a functional piece.
Clearly inspired by Robert Adam's 18th century works, it is amazingly well detailed inside and out and is ready its new occupant(s).
We found a few images of the best dog beds and kennels for your inspiration.
Marjorie Merriweather Post, Heiress and Founder of General Foods, Chatting with Her Schnauzer, who is posing in his canopied bed once used by Belgian Royalty, at Hillwood estate. By Alfred Eisenstaedt.
A charming dog bed, designed by English interior decorator John Fowler (1906—1977). It was featured in the October 2009 issue of Tatler magazine in an article on Cornbury, Oxfordshire.
Beautifully trimmed with passementerie and enriched with gilded accents, it evokes an 18th century state bed, an attribute of the ultimate luxury at many English country houses.
This lovely giltwood niche-en-tabouret, in what appears to be a fine needlework, was advertised by a Paris dealer a while ago.
A few interesting examples were found on Instagram:
A rather fancy gilded and polished fantasy in the Empire taste has been recently built by a classical design enthusiast @aurelienbaptiste for his dogs @achilles_and_proserpine.
Another fantasy, in the Chinoiserie style by the same artist.
This monumental (5ft high) dog castle, sold from the collection of Count Alarico Palmieri by Christie's, London, 28 March 1996, was reproduced by Sheila Parness Ltd. and advertised in the October 17, 1996 issue of Country Life priced at hefty £7,500.