Freud & Dogs, Pt. 4: The Mystery of the Chows on the Balcony

Freud & Dogs, Pt. 4: The Mystery of the Chows on the Balcony

I didn’t think I would have much more to say about Freud’s dogs; I’ve already devoted a three-part series to them on this blog. But I recently encountered an intriguing mystery.

Freud and the mystery chows

It all started when David C. Farmer, who is playing Freud in Freud’s Last Session in Honololu — don’t miss it if you’re in Honolulu from November 2-11 —  posted the famous picture of Freud on the balcony with two chows on his Facebook page, asking about the  identity of the dogs.

That’s the question I’ve been trying to answer.

A Canine Timeline

The following timeline information comes from Gary Genesko’s 1993 introduction to Topsy: The Story of a Golden-Haired Chow, a book by Princess Marie Bonaparte that Anna and Sigmund Freud translated. The elaborately-footnoted piece is also the best resource I’ve found about the role of dogs in Freud’s life and psychoanalytic practice.

Ca. 1925. Anna Freud gets a German shepherd named Wolf. Her father is besotted, jealousy ensues. Anna writes poems to her father in the persona of the dog and gives him a picture of Wolf for his 7oth birthday.

1928. Dorothy Burlingame, a close friend of Anna, gives Freud his own dog, a chow named Lün-Yu.

August 1929. Lün-Yu dies about 15 months after Freud gets him, having wandered off on a train station in Salzburg en route to Vienna and turning up dead on the tracks a few days later. Freud is devastated, and grieves for seven months.

Freud and Yofi, Berggasse 19, year unknown

March 1930. Freud brings Yofi, Lün-Yu’s sister, into his home. She has, presumably, been in the care of Dorothy Burlingame.

February 1931. Yofi has a litter of puppies (father not yet identified). Only one, Tatoun, survives.

October 1931. Tatoun dies, probably of distemper.

April 1933. Yofi has a second litter.

These puppies meet a worse fate than those in the first litter.  Yofi eats part of her litter and the puppy Freud has designated for Bryher, the partner of one of his patients, the poet H.D., bites someone and has to be put down.

1936. Wolf dies.

Freud & Lun, Grinzig (a suburb of Vienna) 1937

January 11, 1937. Yofi goes into the veterinary hospital to have a pair of ovarian cysts removed. The surgery seems successful, but on January 14, three days after being released, Yofi dies of a heart attack.

January 15, 1937. Freud reacquires Lün, Yofi’s sister, from Dorothy Burlingame.

Lün had belonged to Freud for a time but had to be given away — first to the Deutsch family and then to the Burlingames — “because Yofi could not tolerate a rival.”

June 1938. The Freud family moves to London with Lün, who is quarantined for six months. Freud is often photographed visiting Lün in the quarantine kennels in the summer and fall.

September 1939. Sigmund Freud dies, outlived by Lün, who has avoided her master in his final weeks, most likely because of his necrotic jaw.

The Provenance of the Balcony Picture

I have said the photo of Freud on the balcony with his two chows is famous. Perhaps that’s an overstatement, but it’s well enough known that it was made into a jigsaw puzzle. Here is Amazon’s product description:

Photo Puzzle showing SIGMUND FREUD 1931/NEG17. SIGMUND FREUD (1856 – 1939) Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis on the balcony with his two chows in Potzleinsdorf. Chosen by Mary Evans.

Mary Evans has an extensive archive of Freud images; Potzleinsdorf is a former palace in Vienna.

Getty, which also has this image in its archives, identifies it as “Freud on the balcony with his dogs Jofi and Luen. Hohe Warte 1933

Hohe Warte is a hill in the 19th district of Vienna. According to Wikipedia, many estates were built on it in the 18th century, but no mention is made of Potzleinsdorf being one of them.

Same picture, two different archives, two different dates and two different locations.

The Getty image is more specific about the names of the dogs. Is it accurate?

A few things that can be deduced from the timeline and photographs.

— Freud usually only had one chow at a time and only had two for brief periods: First, when there was an attempt to keep Yofi and Lün together (though I couldn’t find a date, it was probably after Yofi had settled in with Freud and had thus became territorial); and when Yofi had her ill-fated puppies (1931 and 1933).

— Yofi and Lün did not look alike. I base this not just on the visual evidence of the two pictures posted here of the dogs with Freud, showing Lun to be darker than Yofi. According to the introduction to Topsy, “Less lion-like in appearance than Yofi, Lun was nevertheless intelligent, pretty, and more tender than Yofi, in Freud’s estimation.” (Considering that Yofi took a chunk out of the thigh of Ernest Jones, Freud’s biographer, and ate part of her own litter, I imagine it would be hard to be less tender than Yofi.)

— Yofi and Lün did not get along.

Therefore, the two dogs in the picture taken on the balcony, dogs that look quite similar and are resting happily together,  are unlikely to be Yofi and Lün, whether in 1931 or 1933. And the similarity in size makes it seems unlikely that it is Yofi with one of her puppies.

I could be wrong about Yofi and Lün, of course. It’s an old picture that obscures the dogs’ features. And the two might have gotten along for brief periods. Still, the issue doesn’t seem resolved.


Update: The mystery has been solved by my commenters! First, alert neo-Freudian dog trainer Lee Charles Kelley pointed out that the dogs looked like puppies. Then David C. Farmer — who, as I noted, will start playing Freud in Honololu’s Freud’s Last Session in two days — searched the archives of London’s Freud Museum and found the photo of Freud with two puppies that I had assumed had met their demise earlier: Tattoun (named for Marie Bonaparte’s chow Tattoun) and Fo, named for Freud’s Stone Dog of Fo.  The photo was taken in the summer of 1933 at Hohe Wart. So Getty got the date and location right, the dogs wrong.

Just so you know, I had tried to find the photo of the dogs on the balcony on the London Freud museum’s website: I went to the photo archives section and put “dogs” into the search form and came up with two pictures of  antiquities. Instead, I should have scrolled through the picture section marked “Freud and Family.” The first photo there, by the way, is an 85-year-old Anna Freud happily playing with a chow!

What with his sleuthing skills, David should be reprising his Freud role in The Seven Percent Solution (the novel and film where Sherlock Holmes consults Freud about his cocaine addiction).

14 Responses to Freud & Dogs, Pt. 4: The Mystery of the Chows on the Balcony

  1. The dogs on the balcony look to be puppies, not grown chows.

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Interesting. I wonder which puppies they were then… It’s entirely possible he was at the home of one of his chow loving friends.

      • Lydia Davis says:

        Yes, I’ll vote for them being puppies, and as you say, they look very cozy with each other. As for Freud, he looks as uncomfortable as usual in his photos. You’d think, if we didn’t know better by now, that he didn’t even like dogs. But I’m sticking to my theory that he really didn’t like being photographed, and turned awkward (and gloomyh) in front of a camera. Which leaves such a false impression of someone who enjoyed wit and good company!

        • Edie Jarolim says:

          Still the mystery of which puppies remains… For my next — and, I think, final — post about Freud and dogs, I’ll include the home video with Freud looking far more comfortable when he doesn’t know that he is being photographed. It *is* an interesting contrast.

  2. I had no epiphany about the Chows on the balcony but I did respond to your timeline. How sad. So many heartbreaks for Freud and his dogs.
    Deborah Flick recently posted..Interview with Alexandra HorowitzMy Profile

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      I know, Deborah. It was not a happy scenario seen starkly like that but Freud clearly derived great happiness from his dogs once he realized it was okay to mourn for them — and also to not mourn.

  3. jill kornmehl says:

    Yofi means wonderful or nice in Hebrew…maybe Freud was closer to his Jewish roots than we thought.

  4. Charlie Hibbard says:

    To me, neither of the dogs in the other two pictures looks like either of the two chows in the famous picture. Look at the bleedin’ ears, for one thing (or four things). Conclusion: those two matched chows are not Freud’s dogs.

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      All right then — it’s official! That’s not Lun & Yofi. But who are those masked chows…

      P.S. Thanks for coming by.

  5. David C. Farmer says:

    Then there is this description from the London Freud Museum: Description:
    Freud, Sigmund: Fo: Tattoun
    Date: 1933 (summer)
    Location: Austria, Vienna, Hohe Warte 46
    Photographer: Casparius, Hans

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Ah, you have solved the mystery, David! According to the introduction to Topsy, “In April 1933, one of the pups of a second [Yofi] litter was also named Tattoun. Another was named Fo after Freud’s Stone Dog of Fo.”

      It was unclear from the introduction how long the puppies lived before one was put down — but clearly they lived long enough for the two to be photographed together.

      Congratulations! You are Freud indeed — and Sherlock Holmes. Maybe your next role will be in a play of the Seven Percent Solution…

  6. […] But then I found a mystery, involving a picture of Freud with chows on the balcony, which I wrote about in Part 4. […]

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