A dog on a laboratory bench sits up and begs the prospective vivisector for mercy. Engraving by C.J. Tomkins, 1883, after a painting by J. McClure Hamilton.
- Hamilton, John McLure, 1853-1936.
- 23 June 1883
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About this work
If at first the subject appears to be a man benignly considering a begging dog, its pathetic nature is increased when the surgical instruments and body of a bird identify the setting as a vivisector's laboratory. The man holds a bottle behind his back in an apparently playful manner, but the dog is not begging for this but rather for his life. The bottle may contain an anaesthetic so that the vivisector's experiment, if lethal, would not be painful. The issue of vivisection was a topical one in the late nineteenth century. The artist may have been directly inspired by a contemporary account by the anti-vivisectionist George Hoggan of the reaction of the dogs that were brought to the laboratory of the French vivisectionist, Claude Bernard: "They would make friendly advances to each of the three or four persons present, and as far as eyes, ears and tail could make a mute appeal for mercy eloquent, they tried it in vain." (Schupbach 1987, p. 351.)
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