David Hockney's dogs Stanley and Boodgie were eight and six respectively, and his adored companions. His extensive study of them – which was three months in the making and required meticulous planning on behalf of the artist, who set up easels around his house in order to capture them quickly in various natural poses – is testament to how he cherished them.
“The dogs do have different personalities. Stanley will follow me everywhere unless it is raining or someone is doing food. Boodgie is more of a loner,” he revealed in 1995. A famously loyal breed, dachshunds form strong attachments to their owners, and Stanley and Boodgie were apparently no exception to the rule. They would trail Hockney’s every move (“If I get up, they get up. If I go to bed, they go to bed”) and eat lunch at the same time as him (1pm).
As well as the portraits of Stanley and Boodgie that Hockney created, his colourful California house was also apparently filled with dachshund paraphernalia. Small models of the hound dotted around the kitchen and sitting room, vintage photographs of famous sausage dogs, a comb fashioned like a dachshund, and a calendar of the breed could all be spotted in his home. Looking at photographs of Hockney with the dogs, drawings of them are seen on his studio walls, and he is more often than not embracing or gazing at them.
Hockney began capturing them sleeping, eating, curled up together, and (somewhat bizarrely) sitting upright, little front legs dangling before them. The exhibition and subsequent book, Dog Days, was successful, particularly with the art-going public, and seen as a charming departure from Hockney’s usual subject matter.