How We Have Captured our Furry Friends Over the Centuries

Renaissance Pet Portrait
Renaissance Pet Portrait

As a pet lover, I’ve always been curious about the history of pet portraits. When did we start capturing the animals we love in art? A deep dive shows we’ve been doing it for thousands of years! Join me on this journey across centuries and cultures exploring our timeless urge to create lasting images of our furry, feathered and scaled friends.

In ancient Egypt, elaborate wall paintings often depicted dogs and cats. To the Egyptians, pets were linked to divinity and the afterlife. I love imagining some ancient Egyptian chiseling a portrait of a beloved cat, so its memory would stretch into eternity!

Move to the European Renaissance. Nobles and royals had serious status obsession! They hired artists to paint extravagant portraits of their horses, dogs and exotic pets to flaunt their elite lifestyle. Who needs Instagram when you can show off your prized greyhounds in a regal oil painting?

Speaking of status symbols, Queen Victoria took pet portrait mania to new heights with her countless portraits of Pomeranians and Collies done by famed artists. By her rule, no proper British home was without a portrait of their pet. This craze definitely didn’t stay confined to the upper crust either.

By the 1800s, pet portraits became a way for grieving families of all classes to memorialize departed animal companions. Heartbroken Victorian owners would commission paintings and new-fangled photographs of their deceased dogs or cats to cope with the loss. Our pets have always been family.

Once photography took off in the late 1800s, pet portraiture exploded. No longer constrained by slow painting techniques, photographers like Harry Whittier Frees had a blast staging bizarre photos of cats in clothes and mice having tea parties. Those old-time pet photographers had serious creativity!

Today, a new generation is pushing pet portraiture in radical new directions. From abstract oil paintings to polaroids, mixed media collages to digital masterpieces, we have more outstanding options than ever to preserve our pets. But the heartfelt emotions behind wanting to capture their spirit - that connection remains timeless.

Whether on cave walls long ago or a digitally edited photo today, the desire to keep our pets’ memory alive spans all cultures and history. Each portrait joins a long chain linking people and animals together against time’s passage. When I see that unbreakable bond, I know pet portraits will endure forever.

So next time you look at a pet portrait, new or old, think about the countless souls before you who felt that same need to capture an animal they loved! Because nothing speaks across the centuries like the language of love.

Let me know if this informal retrospective captures the essence in a more engaging, narrative way! I aimed to walk through the history from a pet lover's enthusiastic perspective. Please feel free to suggest any modifications to enhance it. I'm happy to keep refining the conversational tone and approach.


Leave a comment

Explore Our Custom Pet Portraits

Based on 338 reviews
Great Gift for anyone!

Great gift for family and/or friends. The quality of the picture is great work whether you go canvas or print. Highly recommended for any pet owner!

Absolutely fantastic

Lovely quality and print went for the A2 of my German shepherds, a real talking point when people come round, one of the prints was cut on arrival, contacted them and it was replaced in a few days. Customer service fantastic 5*

Cats as masters.

The portrait of my wife's cats in the masters outfits was superb. The whole process of downloading photos and ordering was really easy and from ordering to delivery was relatively quick. Would highly recommend.

My Son-In-Law is gonna love it!!!

I perused the numerous pages of options to Portrait My Pet and found the perfect option....the dog riding a motorcycle!!! James is also a motorcycle rider and I know he is going to love it for his birthday!!!

Cat of Thrones

This was a gift to my adult son. He is a lover of Game of Thrones and his cat. "This gift is beyond an A+" he said. Your idea was able to help me send my son an unusual and A+ gift!!!
We both love it!!

The very best I could hope for

Our cherished Tinkerbell died and I wanted to remember her as the queen she was. Potrait My Pet were kind and considerate with dry responsive customer service. the proof’s were shared quickly and the product was well packaged. Highly recommend.

Very good.

Very good.

Great gift!

The portrait was a great surprise gift!

Best Doggy gift

So pleased with this as a gift. Very easy to order and got shown an approval preview.very good quality image and paper. Blending in image amazing. Will be ordering one for my own dog.

Perfect Gift

Funny Pictures! Great service and fast delivery!

A beautiful memory

Following the loss of our beloved boy portrait my pet has brought back some amazing memories

Amazing service

So happy with the picture of my pup, nothing was too much trouble for them even though I asked for something specific!
We loved it so much we ordered another! Couldn’t recommend enough!


Great prorate at a good price.

The canvas is perfect! I'm sure my son will love it!

Fabulous artwork and product. Very happy with my purchase.

Great price and end result.
100% happy and satisfied.
Can't wait to see my partners face when she unwraps it on Christmas day.

Fantastic and great quality product. Would highly recommend this website. I love my cat poster, thank you

thank you for letting me see what it would look like beforehand.. and for getting it to me so quickly!! I love it.

Loved our photo and got exactly what we wanted! This was a gift and the recipient is super happy. The owner worked with me and couldn't have been nicer!!

We were under the impression and thought we paid for canvas. We just got a photo on paper. We had it framed and it turned out very nice. I sent two emails about the canvas and heard nothing. Not sure if we would use this site again.

They worked with me to make exactly what I wanted! I'll definitely use them again for any canvas work I need done!

I am extremely thrilled with the portrait.
Excellent quality through and through.
Seller was helpful throughout.
Can't rate highly enough.


Lovely result thanks

Wonderful picture! Really helpful and Gresham communication 😊

Absolutely amazing! Louise was so great to communicate with and sent over a proof before going ahead with the print. Not only did she do a fantastic job of the picture itself, the canvas is brilliant quality. Highly recommend!