Saturday, March 8, 2008
Alexander, the Fourth Duke of Gordon
Pompeo Girolamo Batoni
Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon (1743 - 1827)
Alexander Gordon, who became the 4th Duke of Gordon at the age of nine, went on a Grand Tour of Europe to complete his education. This portrait of him was painted in Rome by Batoni, the fashionable portrait painter popular with the British aristocracy in Italy. Usually Batoni's Grand Tour portraits make references to the antiquities of Rome, but here he has emphasised Gordon's passion for hunting. The young duke was not particularly interested in the ancient sites or classical learning.
Alexander was the Scottish nobleman credited with developing the Gordon Setter as a distinct breed. The Castle's kennels, however, kept many dogs that today would be unrecognizable as Gordons. Many colors abounded, as the Duke obviously had little interest in "setting type". The breed, at that time, was a fluid mix of dogs and desired qualities. Bloodhound contributed to the Gordon's superb scenting abilities. It is thought that Collie blood was also part of the mix.. An eclectic breed, indeed!