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Shepherdess with Animals

Brandi Domenico called Micco

(Naples 1683 - 1736)

Executed by Domenico Brandi, this painting only entered the Borghese Collection in 1922, when it was purchased together with the Shepherd with Animals (inv. no. 563) for the total sum of 600 lire. It depicts a herd of domestic animals by a body of water, led by a young shepherdess. In all likelihood the canvas was painted in the early 18th century. It forms part of the genre of the representation of shepherds and flocks that was perfected by the German painter Philipp P. Roos, called Rosa da Tivoli, whose works were sought after in all of Europe; the young Brandi was among the admirers of these paintings and used them as models.

Object details

early 18th century
oil on canvas
35 x 47 cm

Purchased by Italian state, 1922.


Firmato in basso, nella parte anteriore: 'BRANDI'


The provenance of this work is still unknown. The first information we have about its history dates only to 1922, when the Italian state purchased it together with its pendant (the Shepherd with Animals, inv. no. 563) for 300 lire each.

The work is undoubtedly by the Neapolitan painter Domenico Brandi, whose signature appears on the front of the canvas. This attribution has been accepted by all critics (Strinati 1924; De Rinaldis 1939; Della Pergola 1955; Herrmann Fiore 2006).

The work depicts large domestic animals – cows, sheep and billy goats – led by a young shepherdess toward a small pond. The wall of rock behind her stands out against a chain of rugged mountains, whose contours blend into the blue sky.

In all likelihood the canvas was painted during the first years of the 18th century. It reflects the success of the genre popularised by Philipp Peter Roos, the German painter who was active in Italy from the 1670s. Yet in contrast to Roos, the Neapolitan painter is less mature and definite, as his subjects lack that lyrical vein typical of the German master, who managed to instil his works with a sense of pathos and drama, incorporating moral allusions and hidden meanings. Roos’s works are true still lifes, which distinguish them from Brandi’s landscapes with animals; less interested in emotional subtleties, the latter painter portrays reality without necessarily wishing to burden it with spectral lighting and details.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Cantalamessa, Cronaca delle Belle Arti. Acquisti, in “Bollettino d’Arte”, II, 1922-1923, pp. 188-189;
  • R. Strinati, La Galleria Borghese di Roma. Gli ultimi acquisti. Giulio Cantalamessa, in “Emporium”, LX, 1924, pp. 601-612;
  • A. De Rinaldis, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1939, p. 30;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p.87, n. 152;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 180.