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  • image P189
SM P189. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photo: Art UK

James Ward RA (1769 - 1859)

Portrait of Fanny, a favourite Dog


Oil on panel

Height (unframed): 19.7cm
Width (unframed): 25.4cm
Height (frame): 26.1cm
Width (frame): 31.5cm
Depth (frame): 4.2cm

Museum number: P189

Not on display

Curatorial note

Fanny was Mrs Soane's pet dog, who outlived her mistress by five years and died on Christmas Day 1820. She was a black and tan terrier type dog of a breed that would today be defined as a Manchester Terrier. In the early 19th century such dogs were commonly working dogs used in buildings to cotnrol vermin and they usually had thier ears cropped, to stand straight. However, Fanny's ears are uncropped and she was clearly a beloved family pet, remembered by the novelist Mrs Barbara Hofland in Soane's 1835 Description as 'pretty Fanny, once no shadow, but a good and true little dog, worthy for her intelligence and affection, to be tenderly recollected'. She is said to have been 18 when she died, proof of the longevity of the breed, and she was treated by the well-know Regency vet and writer William Youatt.

She is shown here as an architect's dog, seated on a capital with another behind her and gazing out over what might be interpreted as the Elysian Fields with one of the most celebrated buildings of Athens, the Erechtheion, in the distance. After Mrs Soane's death, Fanny seems have had a special place in the affections of her grieving husband. In the account of his basement Monk's Parlour and Monk's Yard, peopled by his imaginary alter ego 'Padre Giovanni' (Father John) Soane describes 'Fanny' as the Monk's 'faithful companion, the delight, the solace of his leisure hours'.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Soane commissioned this posthumous portrait of Mrs Soane's pet dog in 1822.


Soane, Description, 1830, pp.20 and 48
Sir J Soane, Description, 1835, p. 48 and for Mrs Hofland's description of Fanny, p.28
Thornton and Dorey, A Miscellany of objects from Sir John Soane's Museum, 1992, p.95, Fig.97
New Description, 2007, pp. 30, 72 and 100
Leaflet guide produced to accompany an exhibition at The Kennel Club Art Gallery by The British Manchester Terrier Club, A Terrier's Tale: The Manchester Terrier through History 6th February - 20th June 2012, no. 9
Sir John Soane's Museum: A Complete Description (guidebook), 2018, pp.31-32, 81, 137

Associated items

MY4, same subject
P159, same subject
P148, same subject

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