Italian Renaissance masterpieces, £19.99
Height: 363.000 mm
Width: 243.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
Pier Leone Ghezzi, Dr James Hay as Bear Leader, a drawing
Italy, around AD 1704-29
This pen and ink drawing is a caricature of the tutors and youths on the Grand Tours of Italy in the eighteenth century. On these Grand Tours the young aristocracy visited the cities and sites of ancient and artistic note. It was also an occasion for these young men to experience life away from school and home for the first time.
An old man drags a reluctant young bear by the sleeve through the Italian countryside. Throughout Europe muzzled bears and their trainers entertained city dwellers for a fee, a job matched by the Grand Tour tutor and his charge. Thus, the term 'bear leader' was used for such tutors who were responsible for the safety and financial control of their charges.
Both the graceless man and the simple-minded youth are mocked in their expressions and their inappropriate dress. The inscription at lower right identifies the grumpy man as Dr Hay. He is too smartly-dressed to be walking on a country road. Similarly dressed, the young bear has his mouth open, no doubt complaining. Between 1704 and 1729 Dr James Hay accompanied at least eight Grand Tourists in tours of Italy. Ghezzi (1674-1755) produced many caricatures of visitors to Rome, some of which, including this drawing, were engraved by Arthur Pond in the 1730s.
J.A Gere, Portrait drawings XV-XX centur (London, The British Museum Press, 1974)
A. Wilton and I. Bignamini (eds.), Grand Tour: the lure of Italy (London, Tate Gallery Publishing, 1996)