Medium: Oil On Canvas
Size: 48 x 64.7 cm
Private Collection, Spain
Goya and Italy, Museo de Zaragoza, June 1 – September 15 2008, catalogue no. 220, illustrated in colour.
The Neapolitan artist Corrado Giaquinto had the greatest impact of any foreign artist working in Spain in the eighteenth century. He had left Italy for Madrid in 1753, traveling via Zaragoza where his pupil Gonzalez Velazquez was working in the basilica of El Pilar. During his short stay there he had an enormous influence on the local painters, particularly Francisco and Ramon Bayeu and the young Goya.
Giaquinto had been summoned to Madrid to paint fresco ceilings for the Royal Palace, as no Spanish painter was believed capable of carrying out such important commissions. He completed three major works in the chapel, above the main staircase and in the Salon de Columnas. The painter was given the title of First Painter of the King and Director of the Royal Academy of San Fernando in recognition of his role until he left Spain in 1761, probably because of jealousy over the arrival of Mengs and commissions in the same palace given to Tiepolo.
The preparatory oil sketch here, for a no longer extant decoration in the Palace by Giaquinto shows Apollo, a figure that represents the Spanish monarchy, rewarding figures who represent painting, architecture and sculpture with prizes and treasures. Lower-right the figure of History, winged but with her foot firmly on the earth, records the scene for posterity.
The king’s role as the architect of peace and prosperity within his kingdom was emphasised throughout the complex iconographical program of decoration, written for the New Royal Palace in 1748 by Father Martin Sarmiento.