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I spy…

January 22nd, 2018

A hand holds a card with a close up image of a detail from a painting - two bejewelled hands holding a small dog.

Image by the AGO.

In our newly reinstalled European Galleries, there’s a mystery waiting for you to solve. But don’t worry. We’ve got some clues to help you!

Introducing our new art detective cards, which can be found next to couches in both the E.R Wood Gallery and the Reuben Wells Leonard Memorial Gallery. There are 4 to 5 cards in each room so try and find them all. Each card shares a tiny detail from one of the magnificent paintings in the room. It’s up to you to find the artwork and learn what that detail means and why it’s there.

“Art detective cards encourage visitors to look deeply at the art and discover the stories and the meaning within,” said Gillian McIntyre, Interpretive Planner. “The art in the European Galleries is full of interesting stories. Everything from the hairstyle in a portrait to the expression on an animal’s face is a piece of the story that the artist is trying to tell. Viewers in the artist’s time would have recognized these details more easily than we do, so the art detective cards give you that context and allow you a glimpse into the time period.”

Wanna try?

See if you can find this lap dog…

A hand holds a card with a close up image of a detail from a painting - two bejewelled hands holding a small dog.

Image by the AGO

…on this wall.

Three paintings in the AGO's European Gallery.

Image by the AGO

Found it? Here it is!

The painting "Portrait of a Lady with a Lap Dog"

Portrait of a Lady with a Lap Dog, around 1665. Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 64.1 cm. Bequest of Frank P. Wood, 1955. Image by the AGO.

Did you know the small King Charles Spaniel she holds is a status symbol for English nobility? Only wealthy people could afford to breed dogs solely as companions. According to the symbolism of the time, the dog also may indicate the lady’s faithfulness to her husband! Who would have thought a dog could mean so much?

Check out the art detective cards on your next visit to the AGO. You never know what cool facts your sleuthing will uncover!

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