An incidental pleasure for me when I tour an art exhibition is to seek out, where this is possible, any dogs that have been immortalised on canvas. There are rich rewards in this area in the National Gallery’s magnificent Canaletto and His Rivals show, which is reviewed by Theresa Thompson today.

Though canines are noticably absent from some of the earliest Canaletto works on view, in most later ones they appear prominently among the crowds.

Pictured above are two of them, both particularly lifelike, I think. One shows a detail from the 1733-4 work The Molo from the Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day. I trust the picture delights its owner, that well-known dog-lover Her Majesty the Queen. Beneath it is a small area of The Reception of the French Ambassador Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, at the Doge’s Palace, 4 November 1726 (1727).

By contrast, the artist’s nephew, Bernardo Bellotto, was hardly a rival in this area, as can be seen from the simian hound in his 1738 painting The Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day.