Paolo Veronese: Boy with a Greyhound, 1570s

 

Paolo Veronese, 1528-1588, Italian

 

The artist alludes to the extraordinary sensitivity and agility of the greyhound by raising the young man’s right heel off the ground.  And by pivoting his right leg away from his body, as in a ballet, in the direction towards which his knee points as if he were about to sprint into the open country shown in the left third of the painting.

 

Boy With a Greyhound, oil on canvas, thought to have been painted in the 1570s.  Metropolitan Museum, New York

 

 Our eyes are drawn by the glint of the metal hilt of the young man’s sword and of its scabbard’s mouth to the greyhound’s magnificent head. Down his neck to the glint of his collar on which his master’s fingers rest. Along his dense back.  Down to his legs set squarely on the ground.

The sideways turn of the greyhound’s head while all four feet remain on the ground confirms what we know:  he is alert to his master and he does not need to show that, once given the signal, he will sprint farther and faster than any human ever could. 

The young man is aware of us standing in front  of him.

With the relaxed and graceful curve of his torso towards his greyhound and, because he can see that we want to join him and his magnificent dog, he lowers his eyes apologetically from our gaze.

He wants no conflict with us. He proposes that we accept that he and his greyhound make up the whole world of this masterful double portrait.  Which they do.

 

 

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