According to Greek myth, Aesculapius, god of healing, was abandoned as a baby on a hillside. He survived by suckling from a nanny goat and was protected by a guard dog. He was rescued by a shepherd attracted by the baby’s dazzling aura, enhanced here by the bright white coverlet on which he lies. Tognolli emphasises the nurturing qualities of the goat and the watchfulness of the dog. In the foreground a snake winds itself around a branch in a natural allusion to the symbol of Aesculapius and medicine itself.


  • Title: The Finding of Aesculapius
  • Creator: Giovanni Tognolli
  • Date Created: Between 1822 and 1839
  • tag / style: Giovanni Tognolli; mythology; The Finding of Aesculapius; nanny goat; dog; guard dog; shepherd; snake; pipes; muscles; baby; rocks
  • Physical Dimensions: w2960 x h1985 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Before teaching at the British Academy in Rome, Tognolli worked as a draughtsman in the studio of the leading neo-classical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822). There he may have met the Liverpool born but Rome-based William Earle (1760-1839), the first owner of this painting.
  • Additional artwork information: To learn about this painting, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/landing/aesculapius.aspx To learn more about the Walker Art Gallery’s 19th-century collection please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/19c/
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Presented by James Aikin in 1876

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