Guercino Dog Has a Pup

A rediscovered portrait of a dog by the Italian Baroque painter Guercino was auctioned March 8 for £570,000 at Cheffins', Cambridge. Previously the artist's only known canine portrait was the Aldrovandi Dog (1625) in the Norton Simon Museum, bottom of post.

When portraits are given ambitious attributions, scholars talk up their psychological subtlety. This is true even when the sitter has four legs. "Seldom in paintings of dogs does one see such individuality and personality so wonderfully portrayed," said Lobkowicz Collection (Prague) curator John Somerville. "This told me at once this was not by any ‘dog painter’ but by a great artist."

And when the sitter is unknown, auction house experts may speculate that it's a self-portrait. "The personality of the Cheffins dog is so beautifully observed and conveyed," said Guercino scholar Nicholas Turner, "it is tempting to suggest that it was the artist’s own animal."