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Portrait of a young boy in a grey, buttoned outfit and sword on his shoulder as he sits atop his dog.
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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
Théodore Géricault, French (Rouen 1791 - 1824 Paris)
Portrait of Olivier Bro
Other Titles
Former Title: A Child with a Dog
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2200, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Emergence of Romanticism in Early Nineteenth-Century France
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
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]


Recorded Ownership History
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

[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
Object Number
European and American Art

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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

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