Peeing Dogs and Pearls of Wisdom

I was looking at this engraving in my grandparents' dining room, and I turned to my grandmother and said, "Nonna, I remember when I was little you always told me, when I encountered these rather complex engravings, that I should always start by searching for the man with the dog. It strikes me now that you knew exactly the way to get a very small person involved in art." (You can see the dog in the bottom right corner.)

"Yes," she replied, "And the dog is always peeing, you know."

"Um, what?" I riposted, light on my conversational feet as ever, "Surely not always. This dog isn't peeing, for instance."

She dismissed this mere evidential thinking with a wave of her hand: "I used to have an engraving of a basilica with white classical columns, but they were painted black up to knee height." She gave me a saucy look.

"To disguise the fact that dogs were always peeing on them?" She twinkled at me delightedly. "But surely the puddles would still be visible. Or was it just to keep the columns from yellow stains?"

Now the look turned haughtier. "I don't attempt to defend these pearls of wisdom," she said from on high, "You may take them or leave them as you wish."

Sometimes it's like being descended from an oddly bawdy Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

One Response so far.

  1. When I was taken to Burgos Cathedral as a child, my attention was drawn to what's at what's at the lady's feet in this photo. Also to this. The figure is known as "Papamoscas" and I always thought that was because it was thought he might catch flies in his mouth (since "mosca" means "fly"). Now, though, having read up on him and taken a closer look at the photo here I'm beginning to wonder if he's really the Lord of the Flies.

Leave a Reply