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Dog Portrait of a Saint Bernard
American School
Pastel on paper
19 1/2 x 12 3/4 (24 1/2 x 17 3/4) inches
Signed and dated "November 1927"


 In order to help struggling trekkers on the Great St. Bernard Pass —a route through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland—at over 8000 feet, an Augustine monk named St. Bernard de Menthon founded a hospice and monastery around the year 1050.


Sometime in the 1600s, the monks at Great St. Bernard Hospice acquired their first St. Bernards—descendants of the mastiff style Asiatic dogs brought over by the Romans—to serve as their watchdogs and companions. Compared to St. Bernards today, these dogs were smaller in size, had shorter reddish brown and white fur and a longer tail.


At start of the 18th century, servants called marroniers were assigned to accompany travelers over the pass. By 1750, marroniers were routinely accompanied by the dogs, whose broad chests helped to clear paths for travelers. The marroniers soon discovered the dog