John Bellany

Lap Dog

About this artwork

This painting explores themes of carnal desire, death and religion, using animals in a symbolic manner. The central female figure is blinded by the sheep mask she wears - the sheep representing self-sacrifice in the Christian tradition. Normally a symbol of marital fidelity, a dog sits in a provocative and phallic position on her lap. Displaying herself openly, the woman is watched by a male figure on the left, who is a thinly-veiled portrait of the artist. The ghostly figure is dressed in deathly black and white and is accompanied by a phallic-looking monkey, the symbol of both lust and art. The relationship between the male and female figures is set against the religious imagery of the ladder and fish-head in the top right of the picture.

  • title:
    Lap Dog
  • accession number:
    GMA 2990
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • date created:
    About 1973
  • measurements:
    184.90 x 164.90 cm
  • credit line:
    Purchased 1986
  • copyright:
    © The Estate of John Bellany. All Rights Reserved 2019 / Bridgeman Images

John Bellany

John Bellany