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Famous people and their poodles

Posted on Nov 15 2008, 23:42 in category "Canine" [ Permalink | 0 comments ]
Tags:  history   people   photographs   poodles 

It is not a secret that many famous people doted on poodles for their faithful and intelligent companionship. Among them were Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Alexander Pope, just to name a few. It is thanks to those famous people (and their willingness to immortalize their pets in early photographs) that we can now imagine what the poodles look like some 100-150 years ago.

Probably, the most comprehensive and well documented list of poodles that accompanied famous historic figures can be found at the Poodle History project. Their collection of references to old-timey photographs is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks the actual photographs...

Yesterday I stumbled upon an Online Archive of California (an initiative of the California Digital Library). As I was browsing this priceless collection of historic evidence and art, I could not help but search for some poodle photographs. I was absolutely surprised to find the Gertrude Stein, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya photographed with their poodles. Here are my delightful discoveries:

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American experimental writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), right, with her biographer and companion Alice B. Toklas and their pet poodle Basket II, walking down a street of the village of southeastern France in which they lived in self-imposed isolation since the Nazi occupation. They acquired his father Basket as "a little puppy in a little neighborhood dog-show and he had blue eyes, a pink nose and white hair and he jumped up into Gertrude Stein's arms".

If it was not for this description, I would not be able to tell whether it is Basket I or Basket II, but the dog in the picture definitely has a well-pigmented nose. According to aforementioned Poodle History project data, Gertrude Stein's Basket I was a contemporary of Picrate (who belonged to the popular novelist Maurice Dekobra, also a chronicler of La view trés Parisienne) and Rag, a gray Standard owned by the "poet of Montmartre", Francis Carco. (Henry, p. 75.)

Norwegian writer and the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832–1910) with a fancy black poodle.

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Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya, the wife of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, with their black poodle. This photograph is a real treasure to me, because it depicts a native Russian poodle from some 100 years ago.

Click this stereo photo preview for full detail

Click this photo for full detail

And here's a little bonus from Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library: American novelist, short story writer and designer Edith Wharton (1862–1937) and three friends at lunch on terrace, Ste. Claire in 1926. Don't know if the poodle in the photo belonged to Edith (her favorite breed was the papillion), but the black miniture poodle surely looks nice!

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