This pair of over-life-size hounds is inspired by a single bronze 'Molossian' (ancestor of the mastiff) cast circa 400 BC and acquired by art collector Henry Constantine Jennings during his stay in Rome between 1753 and 1756. Jennings's notoriety stems principally from the restitution of the figure from a local restorer's studio for a total of £80. The rumors of the acquisition quickly spread throughout England and the hound became known as one of the most important examples of Classical animal art. The figure was renamed by Jennings himself based on a Plutarch account of the Athenian-born Alcibiades who purchased a large and handsome dog only to have its tail severed. Though the original and the present copies do not lack tails, it was Jennings's hope to associate the figure with the cachet of ancient Greek civilisation. Jennings's original now resides in the British Museum of Art.