GIACOMO CERUTI (1698 - 1767)
Boy with a Dog (w.d.)




An allegorical composition rather than a portrait, as might be suggested by the search for verisimilitude in the portrayal of the face, the hands and the clothing, the subject of the Boy with a Dog is that of hunting, to which the horn held in the dog's mouth, appearing as an attribute, alludes.

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Active at Brescia in his youth, Ceruti was at Venice in 1736; later at Piacenza, then again at Brescia and Milan. A successful portrait painter, he also painted works of religious subject and still lives. He owes his fame, however, to images of the poor - beggars, pilgrims, peasants, minor artisans - engaged in their modest activities or glimpsed during moments of rest. Near to 17th century painters such as Le Nain and Murillo, Ceruti was a refined stylist - his compositions invariably tend toward the monochrome - and a keen observer of social reality. The extreme poverty shown by many of his personages was in fact common to the peasants and urban poor during the decades in which the artist was painting. Ceruti's clientele was aristocratic. The images of poverty were edifying, a proof of philanthropy, and occasionally evocative of laughter (in accordance with the Carracci tradition).