As the closest companions to humankind for many centuries it is not surprising that these creatures occur incidentally and centrally throughout the history of art. From Ancient Egypt to the Chapman Brothers and Jeff Koons, images of cats and dogs appear in the work of Van Eyck, Durer, Titian, Brueghel, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Goya, Courbet, Bonnard, Klee, Gaudier-Brzeska, Balthus, Peter Blake, and Hockney to name just a few.

Reigning Cats and Dogs features both historical and contemporary images, sometimes imbued with satirical and sentimental intent. Curator Peter Ford RE RWA has brought together an international collection of paintings, printmaking, photography, sculpture, artists’ books, book illustration, postcards and ephemera united under this theme. Reigning Cats and Dogs playfully mixes humour with the serious. Participating artists include David Inshaw RWA, Stephen Jacobson RWA, Angela Lizon, Ben Hughes, Martin Leman, Anouk Mercier, Lucy Willis, Bobbie Russon, Rose Sanderson, two Russian artists, Alexander Kolokoltsev and Yuri Borovitsky, and Japanese artist Emiko Aida, and work on paper by four young Polish artists. The exhibition also presents paintings by PJ Crook, Augusta Talboys and Elisabeth Frink from the RWA permanent collection.

From inconsequential intrusions to the starring role, cunning cats and dutiful dogs assert their artistic presence throughout the RWA galleries, acting as vehicles for an exploration of historical, functional and imaginative themes, incorporating kitsch kittens, politicised pooches and menacing mongrels.

Associated Events

Reigning Cats and Dogs, Peter Ford RE RWA

CURATOR’S TOURS: SATURDAY 26 JANUARY, 9 FEBRUARY AND 23 FEBRUARY at 2.30pm

Curator and artist Peter Ford RE RWA will be providing a tour of the exhibition Reigning Cats and Dogs discussing some of the exhibitions themes and selected works. Free with exhibition entry. more info

Paper Cutting Cats and Dogs, Jessica Palmer MA

SATURDAY 26 JANUARY 10am – 4pm

Learn to create beautiful hand-cut images based on your favourite artworks in the exhibition. Jessica will take you through the background to paper cutting, showing examples of her own and other artists’ work. £40. more info

Children’s Print Workshop, Print an Animal Snow Scene, Christine Howes MA in collaboration with Spike Print Studio

TUESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 10.30am – 12.30pm

Join our fun workshop and create your own wintery scenes using artic animals such as Polar Bears or Seal Pups, £10. Suitable for ages 7-11 yrs. more info

Family Print Workshop, What’s Your Favourite Animal? Simon Tozer MA in collaboration with Spike Print Studio

THURSDAY 14 FEBRUARY 10am – 1pm

What’s your favourite animal? Using screen printing we will create colourful images by combining paper-cut and hand-drawn stencil techniques. Family workshop. £10 per child. more info

An Artist’s Best Friend, Dogs, Cats and Victorian Painters, Justine Hopkinson

ART HISTORY DAY SCHOOL: SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY 10am – 4pm

Exploring the use of animals in art including the work of David Wilkie, Edwin Landseer, Franz Winterhalter, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and John Singer Sargent £30. more info

A Dog Howling at the Moon, 1 day workshop with Ros Cuthbert

SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY 10am – 4pm

This one-day mixed-media workshop will be exploring magic and mystery through images of animals in art. Suitable for all abilities. £40. more info

Friday 11 January - Friday 15 March 2013

Admission prices

Adult Gift aid admission £4.50

Concessions £3

Repeat Exhibition ticket (unlimited repeat visits to this show) £8

Under 16s/Filton Students FREE

Opening times

Monday - Saturday - 9.30-5pm Sunday - 11 - 5pm Last admission half an hour before closing