An Artist’s Best Friend, from Modern Dog

Hilary Cooper is best known for her portraits of New York’s newsmakers. Ed Koch, Derek Jeter, and the late George Plimpton. But her favorite subject (and ours) is the dog. “Dogs are great because they have such a particular and specific character. There’s an authenticity you can sense when it’s right— whether or not you know the subject who is sitting for the portrait.”

Hilary’s work with dogs happened by chance. “I wasn’t commissioned to paint the person with his or her dog, but they (the dog) would get into the act.” Hilary says, “I didn’t mind at all.” A perfect example is the portrait of her friend Sasha and Hilary’s now-deceased Weimaraner, Aengus. “Aengus was only on the stand for a split second, but I remembered the composition when I painted the piece and it turned out to be one of my favorites.” she recalls. “I highly encourage that all dogs should be in portraits. There is a contentedness in having one’s dog with you— something peaceful. It’s an unconditional relationship.”