Desired and utilised by the Italian and European courts since the Middle Ages not only for its hunting skills and its reliability, but also for its gentle and devoted nature and its aesthetic qualities, the bracco italiano, or Italian pointer, has always been a great source of pride for Italian dog breeding.
This very interesting book describes the evolution of the bracco breed from its early origins, and it defines the modern standards of this hunting dog. It can be considered as a unique work, as it succeeds in filling a gap in the specialised literature, which until now has not presented a complete investigation into the origins and the developments of this breed.
In doing this, an inter-disciplinary approach has been employed by dealing with the topic not only from a historic and dog-loving perspective, but also from a literary and artistic one. Furthermore, by flipping through the pages it is possible to note a certain degree of emotional involvement of the two co-authors. Indeed, this book is the result of the collaboration of two very different personalities; on one side, Giuseppe Colombo Manfroni, who is a dog lover, a bracco breeder and an internationally renowned hunting dog judge, and on the other, Massimo Ferri, a versatile artist who is establishing himself at an Italian and international level thanks to his exquisite production of watercolours, pastels, drawings and sculptures. Even if Ferri's main source of inspiration has always been the city of Venice, he has recently started to dedicate his art to a series of works where the subject is the bracco italiano. Despite their different backgrounds, the book clearly makes evident their great emotional attachment to this type of dog. It is this personal involvement that has motivated them to deal with this breed, even if in different ways, and that has aroused in them the desire to contribute to the public awareness of this dog's importance by publishing this book.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part, written by Colombo Manfroni, provides an interesting overview of the history of the bracco by using also literary and iconographic sources.
The author describes the evolution of this breed of dogs by starting from the description of its medieval origins, and of its physical improvement during the sixteenth century, when it began to be exported to the European courts. After reaching perfection in the dog's training and skills during the eighteenth century, the bracco breeding declined in the following century, when many landowners started to leave the countryside, and consequently hunting activities, for town life. Despite the competition on the Italian market of British and French hunting dogs, a new interest for hunting, together with the fundamental role of some important professionals in the fields and the establishment in 1882 of the Italian Kennel Club (KCI), later called Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana (ENCI), led to a new beginning for bracco breeding, and to the definition of precise standards. Thanks to this great commitment, it was possible to obtain dogs of great beauty and hunting abilities. In order to maintain the same qualitative level in the future, the first part of this book terminates with the precise description of the most up-todate morphological standards, which could be used as guidelines for bracco breeders.
In the second part of the book, around fifty works by Massimo Ferri are displayed. These works were realised during a period of four years, from 2009 to 2013, and they all have braccos as their main subject. By mastering different artistic media, such as watercolour, pastel, drawing, and bronze lost-wax casting, and by observing directly wonderful examples of bracco, the artist was able to reproduce in a very empathetic way their individual characters and expressions as an artistic celebration of this unique hunter.
This monumental book represents a fundamental instrument not only for scholars, breeders, and dog lovers, but also for art historians, collectors, and for all the people who would like to know more about this important Italian dog breed.
Beatrice Bianca Bertoli