|Fig. 1. Tomb of Archbishop Pedro Tenorio (d. 1399) (taken by the author, October 2016).|
|Fig. 2. Amadis, dog of Lorenzo Suarez.|
The dog at the archbishop’s feet is not the only dog in the Capilla de San Blas. On the ceiling, one panel, perhaps painted by Ferrand Gonzalez, depicts the adoration of the shepherds. In the painting, a dog rests curled up on the ground in a nook below the box in which the swaddled Christ child looks upon his visitors (Fig. 5. Ceiling panel in Capilla de San Blas, Wikimedia Commons). The dog does not have cropped ears as do the dogs of the tombs and could be either a hunting or guarding type. (Curiously, many centuries later, the architect Antoni Guadi, would have a Catalan sheep dog accompany the shepherds visiting the manger on the Nativity Façade of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.)
|Fig. 3. Tomb of Archbishop Tenorio (detail).|
|Fig. 4. Tomb of Leonor de Castilla (detail).|
Funerary sculptures of dogs in the late middle ages should probably not be expected to reflect a precise reality of the subjects. The bulbous heads and thick bodies of the dogs carved by Ferrand Gonzalez may reflect artistic objectives that compromised realism. We must also acknowledge the greater variation in types prior to modern breeding practices. Despite these caveats, the dog at the feet of the archbishop, and the other dogs sculpted by Ferrand Gonzalez appear to be alanos, bulkier than the swiftest lebreles and more useful in a fight against a boar, though less likely to catch up with a deer or a rabbit.
In a paper published in 2022, I argued that the dogs that Columbus brought to the Hispaniola on his second voyage were lebreles, as indicated by most contemporary or near-contemporary sources, not mastines (mastiffs), as sometimes stated by more recent historians. This was a specific instance of the transfer of dogs from the Old World to the New, but to provide a thorough analysis of dogs brought by European migrations and to know what was expected of them in the new environment, one must consider their original function and appearance. Thus, it would be necessary to investigate how these dogs were used in Europe for hunting, herding, and decorating the boudoir, for which there would be many variations across the Spanish, French, English, Dutch, Russian, and other cultures that sent dogs to the Americas. Hopefully there is some doctoral student, perhaps in a combined history and art program, working on this.
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Cummins, John (2003). The art of medieval hunting: the hound and the hawk. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
|Fig. 5. Adoracion de pastores, Capilla de San Blas|
Franco Mata, Angela (1991)., El Sepulcro de don Pedro Suarez III (s XIV) y el taller toledano de Ferrand Gonzalez, Boletin del Museo Arqueologico Nacional, vol. IX, no. 1.
Montoya, María Isabel (1990). Léxico de libro de la montería de Alfonso XI. Granada: Universidad de Granada.
Ortega Cervigon (2003) La funcionalidad política de la nobleza castellana: el oficio de Montero Mayor durante el siglo XV
Perez Higuera, T. (1978) Ferrand Gonzalez y los sepulcros del taller toledano (1385-1410). Boletin del Seminario de Arte y Arqueologia, Universidad del Valladolid, vol. 44, 129-142.
Salas, Alberto Mario (1950). Las armas de la conquista. Buenos Aires: Emecé.