The Aldrovandi Dog

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (Italian, 1591-1666)
c. 1625
Oil on canvas 
44 x 68 in. (112 x 173.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

Canine portraits appear from the late 16th century forward, as dogs became beloved pets and, for the nobility, status symbols. This life-size portrait presents a specific dog, perhaps the favorite of Count Filippo Aldrovandi of Bologna (1598–1644), whose coat of arms is visible on its leather collar. About six years later, in 1631, the artist painted a portrait of the count’s horse as well. Both paintings would have been hung fairly high in a salon, or reception room, where they would appear to tower over the viewer. Guercino has silhouetted the brindle-coated dog against a rich blue sky, where precisely placed clouds emphasize the dog’s vivid presence and scale. A sweeping landscape behind the dog, believed to represent the Aldrovandi Castle, is more likely an invention of the artist.


Conte Filippo Aldrovandi, Bologna,until 2nd half of 18th century.
John Smith-Barry, Marbury Hall, Northwich, by descent to;
Arthur Hugh Smith-Barry, Lord Barrymore, Marbury Hall, Northwich, by descent to;
Mrs. Bertram Bell of the Smith-Barry family (sale, London, Sotheby’s, 12 July 1972, no. 7, ill., to);
[David Koetser Gallery, Zurich, in partnership with Drs. Fritz and Peter Nathan, Zurich, sold 1980 to];
Norton Simon, sold 1982 to;
[Drs. Fritz and Peter Nathan, Zurich, in partnership with David Koester Gallery, Zurich, sold 1984 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via email. Requests can also be made by fax or mail.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Please fill out our Online Reproduction Request Form.

E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: (626) 449-6840 x 3300
Fax: (626) 796-4978

Additional Artwork by Artist