140 years of photography portraying the noble dog; The Dog Observed: Photographs, 1844-1983, edited by Ruth Silverman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 165 pp. $25.
"Recollect," said Sir Walter Scott, "that the Almighty, who gave the dog to be companion of our pleasures and our toils, hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit."
And recollect, too, advises Ruth Silverman (in so many words) in her introduction to "The Dog Observed," that the dog has long been a popular and fine photographic subject, a fact that her wonderfully fun book proves beyond doubt.
This is not the first photography book gone to the dogs.One of last year's best was William Wegman's immensely funny "Man's Best Friend," and before that -- let's call him the pioneer of dog photography -- came Elliot Erwitt's "Son of Bitch" (1974).
"The Dog Observed" contains a number of photographs by Erwitt and Wegman, and also images by Richard Avedon, Arnold Genthe, August Sander, P. H. Emerson, Andre Kertesz, Horst, Dr. Erich Salomon, Robert Capa, Emmet Gowin, Harry Callahan, and a host of other big names in the history of photography.
Silverman has no large point to make here other than that a lot of very fine photographs were made by very good photographers of dogs. Every dog has his day , and many of them have had a camera in that day. A fun book, nicely produced.