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

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.


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.

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