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1675 - 1700. Oil on canvas. On display elsewhere

This canvas by a late 17th-century painter is part of a group of four works, all at the Museo del Prado (P191, P3196, P3197 and P3198), that express the idea of the Elements through motives drawn from classical mythology. Here, the element Earth is represented with total clarity by the goddess Ceres. The summer fruit she carries, especially sheaves of wheat, and the fact that she is suckling a baby—an expression of fecundity—make her immediately recognizable. The lion and tortoise are also attributes of Earth, although they are associated with the Cybele rather than Ceres. In that sense, Ripa’s analogy between the lion and the farmer is well known: the lion erases its footprints with its tail, while the farmer, when sowing, erases his prints as he covers the seeds. The technique and the rather dark canvas are very characteristic of paintings from Madrid and the turgid forms suggest it may have been painted by an artist close to Claudio Coello.

This important series has never received critical attention, yet it is especially interesting as an example of the artistic situation in circles close to the Madrid court during the final years of the 17th century. They reflect much of Carreño’s approach through Claudio Coello and Ruiz de la Iglesia, with clear but already distant echoes of Venetian and Flemish painting, and even knowledge of Luca Giordano, whose works are known to have been at the Madrid court since at least the late sixteen-fifties. These four works cannot be confidently attributed to any known artist and there are even some differences among them. The Air is attributed to Giordano, while the other three are always listed as anonymous, without mention of their school or possible circle (Text drawn from Pérez Sánchez, A. E.: Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo (1650-1700), Museo del Prado, 1986, p. 350).

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo, Madrid, Ministerio de Cultura. Banco Herrero, 1986, p.349-350

Technical data

Related artworks

Oil on canvas, 1675 - 1700
Oil on canvas, 1675 - 1700
Oil on canvas, 1675 - 1700
Inventory number
1675 - 1700
Height: 245 cm; Width: 106 cm
Serie Alegorías de los Cuatro Elementos
Royal Collection (colección Felipe V, Quinta del duque del Arco, El Pardo-Madrid, cuarta pieza sala de invierno, 1745, [no. 65]; Quinta del duque del Arco, pieza cuarta, 1794, no. 80)

Bibliography +

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 814.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo, Ministerio de Cultura. Banco Herrero, Madrid, 1986, pp. 349-350.

Magariños, A., Las Raices de Todas las Cosas : Exposicion con Motivo del Di, Ministerio de Obras Publicas, Madrid, 1989, pp. 16.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Calderón de la Barca y la España del Barroco, Sociedad Estatal España Nuevo Milenio, Madrid, 2000, pp. 245.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio. Inventarios Reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia, Madrid, 2004, pp. 493.

Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Quinta duque del Arco, 1745. Núm. [65].
Quarta Pieza Sala de Ynvierno [...] [63-66] Quatro quadros de tres varas de largo por varay tercia de ancho de los quatro elementos sus marcos dorados=

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Quinta duque del Arco, 1794. Núm. 80.
Pieza quarta [...] [4774] 80 / Otro [quadro] de tres varas de alto y tercia de ancho con una figura que representa al Elemento de la Tierra: en ... 200

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1174.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1174.
Anónimo. / 1174. Representación simbólica de la tierra. / Alto 8 pies, 8 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 3 pies, 9 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 616.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 3196.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 3196.

Inscriptions +

Retirado del instituto de / Badajoz en marzo de 1968.
Scrap of paper. Stretcher

M.N.PRADO / 03196
On metallic tablet. Stretcher

M.N.PRADO / M00476
Inscribed in golden colour. Stretcher

Nº 3196 (4 veces)
Scrap of paper. Stretcher

Numº. 1174- / El Elemento de la / Tierra
Inscribed in golden colour. Stretcher

1174. [está situado en la franja inferior, que parece añadida]
Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

1174 (invertido)
Inscribed with ballpoint. Stretcher

Wood nameplate. Frame, front, lower bar

Exhibitions +

Exposición sobre el Medio Ambiente
06.06.1989 - 30.06.1989

Location +

Madrid - Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales (Deposit)

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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