Family Pet Portraits: Fun or Faux Pas?

The line between devoted pet owner and crazy cat lady (or dog person) is a fine one. One day you pick up a pair of cute salt and pepper shakers, and the next thing you know there are pillows, coasters, custom golf club covers shaped like your dog's head, and a full-length professional portrait hanging over the fireplace. How far would you go? On a visit to the home of a family friend, I was shocked to discover a full-sized portrait of the family's beloved West Highland Terrier.

"It's the same photographer who took Bo Obama's official portrait," I was informed.

Of course it was a gorgeous picture of a cute and clearly much-beloved dog, but I still wasn't sold on the idea of pet portraits until I discovered the work of Valerie Leonard, who combines pet portraiture with Old Master paintings to create elaborate, aristocratic portraits of dogs in period costumes that zoom right past whimsy and straight into mad genius territory.

A Dalmation Vermeer? Of course it's crazy, but is it crazy-awesome? Would you hang a portrait of your pet in your house? Let us know in the comments.

(Images: Valerie Leonard)

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