Ketubah Art 101: Dogs in Ketubah Art
Ok, we know you love each other. That’s why you’re getting married. But who really has the strongest hold on your heart? Not your spouse, your best friend, your parents, your siblings. It’s your dog. (Or maybe your cat.) And very rarely, your pet hedgehog. Whether you’re bringing your own pets to your marriage or if your pet is your first child together, you know your pet deserves a place of honor in your ketubah.
I’ve been doing portraits of couple’s dogs and cats for a long time. Here’s one of my favorites and yes, the black and tan labs walked down the aisle dressed as bride and groom! I think they might have even been the ring bearers.
History of Dogs in Ketubah Art
There’s actually a history and tradition to this. If you ever took Art History 101 in college you probably saw this painting by Jan Van Eyck, “The Betrothal of the Arnolfini” from 1434. Look who’s standing between the bride and groom! Art historians agree that dogs are a symbol of loyalty and some even think the painting served as a visual marriage contract.
Although not a marriage portrait, the next image, from 1610, is an illustration of Fidelity by Cesare Ripa Perugino from his “Iconology of Moral Emblems.” Here, the allegorical Fidelity carries a ring and is accompanied by her dog.
Researching the history of ketubahs from around the globe I found an early example of dogs in a ketubah! I’m assuming these are Italian greyhounds, protecting the newly married couple and symbolizing a faithful marriage.