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Gallery Text

This portrait depicts the son of Colonel Louis Bro, a cavalry officer knighted by Napoleon. Géricault painted the colonel’s five-year-old son Olivier in the visual language of service to the empire, his somber expression suggesting adult concerns rather than playfulness. Olivier’s costume recalls portraits of soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars, and the boy’s dog stands in for a cavalry horse. The sword belonged to Colonel Bro, who purportedly brandished it at the Battle of Waterloo. At this point, however, the empire was over, Napoleon was in exile, and Bonapartists such as Bro had been beaten down and were out of power. They were also often spied on by the royalist government and unable to work. Here, Géricault uses a child to represent the seriousness and danger of war, and its larger effect on French society. He gave the painting to Olivier’s family as a token of friendship.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
2021.192
People
Théodore Géricault, French (Rouen 1791 - 1824 Paris)
Title
Portrait of Olivier Bro
Other Titles
Former Title: A Child with a Dog
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
1818-1819
Culture
French
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/342196
Location
Level 2, Room 2200, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Emergence of Romanticism in Early Nineteenth-Century France
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
62 × 51 cm (24 7/16 × 20 1/16 in.)
framed: 81.3 × 71.1 cm (32 × 28 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: verso, upper left of frame: [printed:] WADSWORTH ATHENUM / HARTFORD, CONN. / No. [typewritten:] T.L.389 / [printed:] Artist [typewritten:] Gericault / [printed:] Title [typewritten:] Boy on a Dog / [printed:] Owner [typewritten:] Mr. and Mrs. A. K. Solomon / 27 Cragie St., / Cambridge, Mass. / [printed:] Return to [typewritten:] Above
  • label: verso, top of frame, blue border: [red ink:] EXI [?, obscured by tear] / 22 [graphite:] 59 [obscured by tear]
  • inscription: verso, left side of frame, black marker: 52
  • inscription: verso, left side of frame, blue crayon: 800 - 4155 z[?]
  • inscription: verso, top of frame, white chalk: [illegible]
Provenance
General Louis Bro (1781-1844), by descent; to his son, Olivier Bro de Comères (1813-1874), until at least 1924. [1] Édouard Napoléon César Edmond Mortier, Duc de Trévise (1883-1946), Paris, until at least 1939. [2] [Schaeffer Galleries, New York].[Julius Weitzner, New York and London, and R. L.]; [3] sold; to Arthur K. Solomon, Cambridge, 1952; The Arthur K. and Mariot F. Solomon Trust, bequest; to Harvard Art Museums, 2021

Notes
[1] Baron Bro de Comères is listed as the owner in the 1924 exhibition catalogue
[2] Duc de Trévise is listed as the lender to the 1939 "French Romantic Artists" exhibition
[3] According to the Weitzner stockbooks, a half share of this work was owned with "R. L."
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Arthur K. and Mariot F. Solomon Collection
Accession Year
2021
Object Number
2021.192
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Exposition Géricault, exh. cat., Hôtel Jean Charpentier (Paris, 1924), cat. no. 251

Exposition Géricault, exh. cat., Galerie Bernheim Jeune (Paris, France, 1937), cat. no. 45

Gros, Géricault, Delacroix: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings, exh. cat., M. Knoedler & Co. (New York, 1938), p. 27, cat. no. 23, as "A Child with a Dog, Portrait of Colonel Bro de Comères as a child"

Untitled, Parnassus (November 1938), Vol. 10, No. 6, p. 4, p. 4, repr.

French Romantic Artists: An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Watercolors by Gros, Géricault, Delacroix, exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Art (San Francisco, 1939), p. 15, cat. no. 17 as "A Child with a Dog"

Charles C. Cunningham, Sr., The Romantic Circle: French Romantic Painting, Delacroix and his Contemporaries, exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT, 1952), cat. no. 17

Lorenz Eitner, Géricault: His Life and Work, Orbis Publishing Ltd. (London, England, 1983), pp. 202, 204-205, 347, no. 209, repr. p. 202

Germain Bazin, Théodore Géricault: Etude critique, documents, et catalogue raisonné, Wildenstein Institute (Paris, France, 1987 -1997), vol. 5, pp. 84, 243-244, no. 1735, repr. p. 243

Henri Zerner, "Le portrait, plus ou moins", Géricault: Ouvrage collectif dirigé par Régis Michel, La documentation française, Musée du Louvre (1996), Tome I, pp. 321-336, pp. 328-330

Exhibition History

Exposition Géricault, Jean Charpentier, 04/24/1924 - 05/16/1924

Gros, Géricault, Delacroix: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings, M. Knoedler & Co., 11/21/1938 - 12/10/1938

French Romantic Artists: An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Watercolors by Gros, Géricault, Delacroix, San Francisco Museum of Art, 04/19/1939 - 05/14/1939

The Romantic Circle: French Romantic Painting, Delacroix and his Contemporaries, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 10/15/1952 - 11/30/1952

32Q: 2200 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 11/10/2015; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/25/2022 - 01/01/2050

Mutiny: Works by Géricault, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/01/2018 - 01/06/2019

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu