European Art: 17th-18th Centuries

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Aldrovandi Dog, c. 1625

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri called Guercino

Italian, 1591-1666
Oil on canvas
44 x 68-1/4 in. (111.8 x 173.4 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1984.2.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

This is the portrait of a specific dog, perhaps the prized or favorite possession of Count Filippo Aldrovandi, whose coat of arms is painted on the dog's collar. The view behind the dog may represent the Aldrovandi Castle in Bologna. With its alert, massive head silhouetted against the clouds, the beast seems ready to respond to the sounds from without. The low horizon line emphasizes monumental scale. The painting was likely hung fairly high in a large room or salon where the animal would appear to tower over the viewer. Although Guercino is not noted as an animal painter, he rendered the dog with scrupulous attention to detail and with a vivacity that combines wildness with acute sensitivity.

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