Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Connecticut artist Valerie Leonard has great appreciation for animals and sees them as more than just household pets. She sees them as a way to pay homage to esteemed ancestors in elaborate oil paintings. Shown here is a bulldog painted as King Henry VIII.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Portrait of Princess Elizabeth I. Valerie Leonard's portrait collection style, "Animal Ancestors," features both dogs and cats in regal poses and she has received orders for paintings from all over the world.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    A standard poodle is painted as Marie Antoinette. Leonard's portraits are inspired from famous masterpieces of iconic figures, posters or family photos. "The fun that I get out of doing these, it's slightly dark. And it is supposed to be funny, but it's supposed to be darkly funny, and people either love it or hate it," Leonard said.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Leonard also incorporates wild animals into her portraits. Meet Count Greywolf of Transivania.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Here, Sealyham terriers appear as young princes. Even though these portraits are done with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Valerie Leonard puts a lot of careful planning and design into creating works that breathe human qualities into four-legged friends. Clients send her a family photo of their pooch or feline, and then choose a classical or traditional style to have the animals painted in.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Shown here is a dog named Daisy as a pope. "A lot of people have told me there's no person in a dog. A dog is a dog, is a dog. That's probably true, but I have a person in a dog and that's my right," Leonard said.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Leonard's latest work is Carmella, a rough coat collie, shown here. Carmella was painted as the Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. This portrait of the empress was originally done in 1857.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Carmella's owner had a portrait made for another one of his pets, an Australian shepherd named Dash, shown here as a Russian count. "Whatever way I see it, it deserves as much value as any other creature that's been blessed with one life and one spirit," Leonard said.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    Another Australian shepherd painted as a noblewoman holding a fan. These canine collectables are not cheap. Some run as high as $1,200, according to Leonard's website.
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
  • Dog Portraits

    A cocker spaniel painted as Queen Henrietta, the wife of England's King Charles I. "Even if you see one of these and you don't know the background, you don't know the animals, you don't know the paintings, everyone smiles," Leonard said. "You get a chuckle out of it because you see the imposition, morphing into a new thing."
    Courtesy of Valerie Leonard, VL Designs
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