Paolo Veronese, 1528-1588, born Verona, worked in Venice
The subject of this excellent painting is thought to have lived in Bergamo. This is a portrait of both poise and tension, of a moment’s lull before spirited action.
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
The museum notes that the original ‘fugitive smalt blue’ of the sky has faded completely.
Following the gold
Our eyes – always seeing yellows first – are drawn from the white-white of the collar ruff to the soft V shape of a double-banded gold necklace
down the lit folds falling vertically from the left shoulder to interrupt the horizontally banded pattern – gold, silver and grey – of his doublet
across the gold hatchwork of his round hose, imitating the V of that gold necklace, to
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 gold-bronze glint of his collar on which his master’s fingers rest. Along his dense back. Down to his legs set squarely on the ground.
On the top of his ears and on his flank, palest reflection of gold.
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, signal once given, he will sprint farther and faster than any human ever could.
This photo is from the web of the Metropolitan Museum, NY
The artist has made sure that the young man is aware of us standing in front of him.
With the relaxed and graceful curve of his torso towards his greyhound balanced by the tulip curves of his round hose seducing us to admiration, and,
because he can see that we want to join him and his magnificent dog, he evades
our eyes with a lowered, courteous, chagrined gaze.
He proposes that we accept that he and his greyhound -immobile for a moment and ready to spring – make up the entire and self-sufficient world of this masterful double portrait.
Which they do.