We know that Louisa Willet-Holthuysen loved cats and dogs, but Abraham also had a favourite pet: his St. Bernard Figaro.This good-natured dog probably did not live in their home on the Herengracht, but on the grounds of their country house in the French village of Le Vésinet, where there would have been plenty of space for such a large animal. 


In the 19th century, lifelike portraiture of animals became a respected artistic genre. One such example is the above painting of Figaro. In this work, he is lying in his kennel atop a crumpled edition of French newspaper Le Figaro. The painting is by Wouter Verschuur, a leading animal painter and friend of the Willets. The canvas was displayed at the 1878 World’s Fair in Paris, having previously appeared at an exhibition organised by the Amsterdam artist’s society Arti et Amicitiae.

The painting now hangs in the gentlemen’s parlour on the first floor of the museum