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Self-portrait with a Tiger and a Lion

Francesco Hayez , ca. 1831

Autoritratto con tigre e leone di Francesco Hayez

For this self-portrait, Hayez chose an unusual horizontal format and a remarkable viewpoint for the image. Still young, the artist does not occupy the centre of the painting but has placed himself in a corner, from where he turns his head to look rather quizzically at the spectator. He is wearing working clothes and a painter’s floppy beret, similar to those seen in various portraits by Rembrandt.
Almost the whole of the painting is occupied by a cage containing a lion and a tiger. The wild animal theme, interpreted in the past as an allegory of art dominating nature, was dear to the romantic taste for the Orient.
A preparatory drawing for the majestic figure of the lion is in the Brera Academy in Milan. The work is datable to the beginning of the 1830s, by which time Hayez had moved from Venice to the Lombard capital. It therefore belongs to his youthful production, as does another self-portrait belonging to the Museum in which the painter has shown himself at the centre of a group of friends.

Data Sheet


Francesco Hayez, 1791-1882


ca. 1831

Material and technique

Oil on panel


43 cm x 51 cm


Riccardo Lampugnani donation, 1985

Inventory number

Murano Glass Room

The room was the bedroom of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli and houses both the collection of archaeological objects and the collection of Murano glass, about two hundred pieces purchased largely by Gian Giacomo himself and initially kept in the Studiolo Dantesco. The Murano Glass Room was severely damaged by bombing in ’43: the lacunar ceiling, the frieze frescoed by Luigi Scrosati and the fireplace, also by Scrosati, were lost. The beautiful doors carved by Giuseppe Ripamonti and some furnishings were saved.


The Museum hosts over 300 paintings. Among them, many Italian works from the Renaissance: masterpieces from Tuscany (Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Pollaiuolo), Lombardy (Luini, Boltraffio, Solario) and Veneto (Bellini, Mantegna). Important is also the group of 18th century Italian painting (Guardi, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Fra Galgario). In the collection, there are mainly portraits and small size paintings.

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