The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Barry (1800-1814)

Barry (1800-1814)

A carte-de-visite showing Barry, a St Bernard dog who lived at a monastery along the Great St Bernard Pass in the Swiss Alps. He became famous for the number of lives he had saved, over forty, his legend being promoted in the English-speaking world in order to increase tourism. Barry remained at the monastery until his death at the age of fourteen, when he was mounted and put on exhibition in the Natural History Museum at Bern. In an attempt to recall his servitude, the taxidermist gave the mounted Barry a rather meek and humble attitude, but in 1923 he was refurbished - his coat having become brittle had broken into over twenty pieces - and given a more confident and happier demeanour.

His body, which is still on display today, shows a much smaller dog than the modern St Bernard. After an accident killed off a large part of the monastery’s kennel, the surviving dogs were crossed with mastiffs to breed the present-day look.

There is a statue of Barry – the name, incidentally, derives from the Swiss German for ‘bear’ – at the entrance to the Cimitière des Chiens in Paris.

Photographed by Emil Nicola-Karlen of Bern, Switzerland.

Code: 122831
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© Paul Frecker 2018