The Frick Collection
Peter Paul Rubens, The Holy Women at the Sepulchre Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Birth of Saint John the Baptist Francisco de Zurbarán, Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo da Ponte), The Flight into Egypt Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino, Aldrovandi Dog
The West Gallery of The Frick Collection
Special Exhibition

Jacopo Bassano
The Flight into Egypt
Podcast | Video

Peter Paul Rubens
The Holy Women at the Sepulchre
Podcast | Video

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri called Guercino
Aldrovandi Dog
Podcast | Video

Francisco de Zurbarán
Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose

Masterpieces of European Painting from the Norton Simon Museum
February 10 through May 10, 2009


Giovanni Francesco Barbieri called Guercino (1591–1666), Aldrovandi Dog, c.1625, oil on canvas, The Norton Simon Foundation

Podcast Available Podcast available by Assistant Curator Margaret Iacono.

The Aldrovandi Dog was painted by Guercino around 1625. Although the dog’s name has been lost to time, we know that Count Filippo Maria Aldrovandi (1598–1644) owned the white and brindle mastiff because its elaborate leather collar bears the Aldrovandi coat of arms. The dog’s facial scars and white hair above the mouth suggest that he is old and has seen his share of violent encounters. His ears have been trimmed, a custom fashionable in England and continental Europe during the early seventeenth century. A villa, bathed in golden sunlight, rises in the distance atop a grassy hill alongside other imposing structures that sweep across the lush vista. Dark clouds break on either side of the canine’s head, seemingly chased by the sun-drenched white clouds that hover over the land and surround the dog’s silhouette like a vaporous halo.

Aldrovandi was born into one of the oldest noble families of Bologna and became a senator there in 1623. He had a family palace in Bologna and a villa in Cento, which he acquired on his marriage to Isabella Pepoli in 1620. The count was a passionate collector of art, and his friendship with Guercino was apparently quite cordial, as the artist lived in Aldrovandi’s Bolognese palace in 1642 before moving into his own residence in 1644. Guercino also was a regular visitor to La Giovannina, as the Cento villa was called and where the dog’s portrait probably hung. The setting in the painting may represent La Giovannina or it simply may be invented, a capriccio. As the villa’s landscape has changed considerably since the time of the painting’s execution, it is impossible to make a definitive identification.

Norton Simon considered buying the Aldrovandi Dog in partnership with The J. Paul Getty Museum before purchasing it by himself in 1980. In 1982, he returned the painting to the Zurich dealers from whom he had acquired it, only to buy it back again two years later. Ever the clever businessman, he repurchased the painting for $600,000, roughly half as much as he initially had paid for it.

Margaret Iacono, Assistant Curator

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. It contains a comprehensive essay on Norton Simon’s collection by Sara Campbell, Senior Curator at the Norton Simon Museum, as well as detailed entries by Margaret Iacono on the five paintings on loan to the Frick.

Masterpieces of European Painting from the Norton Simon Museum is organized by Colin B. Bailey, Associate Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of The Frick Collection, and Carol Togneri, Chief Curator of the Norton Simon Museum, with the assistance of Margaret Iacono, Assistant Curator of The Frick Collection.

Principal funding for the exhibition is provided by Melvin R. Seiden in honor of Colin B. Bailey. Major corporate support is provided by Fiduciary Trust Company International. Additional support is generously provided by the Thaw Charitable Trust, Mr. and Mrs. John P. Birkelund, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.