Guercino

Newly discovered work by Guercino to hit auction block with Cheffins

A previously unrecorded painting which has been attributed to the Old Master artist, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, best-known as il Guercino, is to be offered for sale at Cheffins’ Fine Art Sale on the 7th and 8th March.  

Bought by the vendor’s great-grandfather in Rome in 1850, the work depicts an Italian Mastiff with a mountainous landscape, and is an exceptionally rare example of Guercino’s paintings of an individual animal. The painting has been in a Suffolk country house for the past 167 years and has been previously unknown to scholars.  

Sarah Flynn, Head of Paintings Department, Cheffins, comments: “Guercino’s authorship of this stunning work has been endorsed by Dr Nicholas Turner, the leading authority on the artist’s work, and by John Somerville, Senior Curator of the Lobkowicz Collection, Prague, as well as the Italian Art Historian, Dr Francesco Petrucci, who has requested it for his forthcoming exhibition “Cani in Posa” in Turin in 2018. The style points to a date during the painter’s early transitional period, around 1625 – 1630. Though Guercino was known to include dogs in portraits and other compositions, the only other surviving work of this type is the famous ‘Portrait of the Aldrovandi Dog’ which hangs in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, USA.  We are delighted to be offering such an important picture for sale.”  

The Aldrovandi Dog was sold at auction in the 1970s and at the time was considered to be Guercino’s only surviving animal portrait, however the discovery of the Cheffins picture proves this to have been incorrect. Guercino was one of Italy’s most celebrated 17th century artists and was born in poverty in Cento, near Ferrara in 1591. Largely self-taught, he was summoned to Rome by Pope Gregory XV from 1621 where he painted altarpieces and frescoes. He eventually moved to Bologna in 1642 where he became the city’s leading painter before his death in 1666. Guercino, otherwise known as ‘The Squinter’, hit headlines in 2017 after a stolen painting of his was discovered in Casablanca, Morocco. The work which is now thought to be worth around £6m was stolen from a church in Modena, Italy in 2014.  

The robust physique and head of the dog has indicated to both the Kennel Club of Great Britain and its Italian counterpart, the Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana, that the dog in the Cheffins painting is a Cane Corso, which was the progenitor of today’s Italian Mastiff. As an ancient breed these dogs were praised by the Romans for their courage, nobility and strength and are still used for hunting or as guard dogs today.  

Dr Nicholas Turner comments: “The personality of the Cheffins dog is so beautifully observed and conveyed, it is tempting to suggest that it was the artist’s own animal, but even if not, then one which he admired, bonded with and indeed very evidently loved. With this in mind, this animal is even more of a ‘portrait’ than the Aldrovandi hunting dog.” 

The painting carries an estimate of £80,000 - £120,000.  

The painting will be sold at Cheffins' Fine Art Sale which takes place on Wednesday 7th March from 9am and Thursday 8th March from 9am.

Viewing Times: Sunday 4th March | Monday 5th March | Tuesday 6th March – from 10am Location: Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA.

For more information, contact the Fine Art team or telephone 01223 213343.

For further media information, please contact Sophie Richardson, PR Manager, Cheffins, telephone: +44 (0) 1223 271990.

Il Guercino

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