Unknown (Persian, Safavid, Shiraz), Majnun in the wilderness, surrounded by animals (from a Khamsa of Nizami manuscript), ca. 1560, opaque watercolor on paper, heightened with gold, Bequest of Mrs. Horace W. Frost. (91.15.58)._x1200
WCMA Blog

Art of the Month Club: Diane Sullivan

The Williams College Museum of Art is excited to introduce a new regular feature to our blog, the Art of the Month Club. Each month we invite someone special to write about a work from our collection. We look forward to engaging with a variety of people through this new feature. Find your own favorite WCMA artwork by searching our collection database. You never know, we may invite you to be the next Art of the Month Club member. Today, please welcome, Diane Sullivan, Artist and Assistant Director of the Williamstown Youth Center.

 

Unknown, (Mexican, Colima), Small dog, ca. late 19th-early 20th centuries, terra-cotta, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast. (90.11.4)_x780

When I first moved to the area about seven years ago, I made my way to the museum. One of the first pieces to thrill me that I saw was a terra cotta sculpture of a dog that was in one of the glass cases. Not just a generic clay dog, but a very special Colima Mexican dog! I first became enamored of these sculptures in graduate school when I visited the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. I was excited to see one again and whenever I would visit WCMA to see a new exhibit, I would always stop by the case to see the dog.

In Mesoamerica cultures these dogs were thought to be the guides of the dead. Created to accompany the deceased on their long journey to the afterlife, the spirit of this sculpted dog would act as both guide and guard.

It is a plump, well-nourished looking dog full of attitude and spunk. Made from terra cotta clay that was well burnished and pit fired, there are lovely dark smoky marks and the mouth shows articulated teeth. This sculpture is modeled after a Mexican hairless dog. It has generous proportions and detailed mouth, eyes and nose. The stance is playful and also guard like, this dog is clearly ready for action. I respond to the feeling of both playfulness and serious intent in this sculpture.
At this time, the sculpture isn’t being exhibited, but I found it in the collection database. It is Object Number: 90.11.4. Dimensions: Overall: 6 3/8 x 9 11/16 in.

Diane Sullivan
Artist and Assistant Director of The Williamstown Youth Center

 

Above image: Unknown, (Mexican, Colima), Small dog, ca. late 19th-early 20th centuries, terra-cotta, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast. (90.11.4)

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