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Funeral Rites for a Roman Emperor
Lanfranco, Giovanni di Stefano
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Lanfranco, Giovanni di Stefano

Terenzo, Parma, 1582 - Rome, 1647

Lanfranco, Giovanni di Stefano See author's file

Funeral Rites for a Roman Emperor

Ca. 1636. Oil on canvas. Not on display

Giovanni Lanfranco painted at least six works that can be related to the commission to decorate the Buen Retiro Palace. The first five are at the Museo del Prado -Auspices in Rome (P236); Scene of Triumph (P2943); Funeral Rites for a Roman Emperor; Gladiators at a Banquet (P3091) and Roman Naumachia (P235) -while the sixth, Triumph of a Roman Emperor with two Captive Kings, belongs to Patrimonio Nacional (Inv. 100113395).

The number and importance of the works he made for the History of Rome series make Lanfranco the most favored by that commission. Indeed, alongside Ribera, he was the most admired by the VI Count of Monterrey and Spanish Viceroy to Naples between 1631 and 1637, Manuel de Fonseca y Zúñiga.

It is not easy the establish the chronology of these works, but the starting point is information provided by Lanfranco himself on December 10, 1637 in a letter to Ferrante Carlo. There he mentions a second commission by Monterrery for two new works, has he had already concluded a previous one for a number of works that he does not specify in that letter. Eric Schleier has offered the most convincing interpretation of this letter, suggesting that the three smallest works -Auspices in Rome, Roman Naumachia and Triumph of a Roman Emperor- probably correspond to the initial commission. Their less-sketchy character has always been considered an argument in favor of this suggestion. Moreover, there is no doubt at all that the figure pulling on a ram at the left edge of Auspices was reused by Lanfranco in Sampson and the Lion (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale), which dates from 1635-1636. That, and the hurried technique shared by both works, with firmly constructed anatomies and tense musculature defined by violent shading, allows us to proposed 1635 as the approximate date for the present work, as well as the Naumachia and the Triumph.

The greatest difficulties arise with the other three paintings, which are almost certainly later. Schleier noticed that the back of one of the preparatory drawings for the Funeral Rites has a study for the figure of God the Father present in the enormous Annunciation at the church of the Agustinas Descalzas in Salamanca, which was founded by Monterrey and concluded around 1635 or 1636. Those same dates could therefore be proposed for the Naumachia as well. Lanfranco’s approach to these works must have been similar to that employed in other contemporaneous commissions, beginning with a meticulous study of the figures. There are at least nine extant drawings related to these works, with complete figures and anatomical details. The best-documented canvas is Auspices in Rome, for which there are six surviving drawings, almost all related to the gladiators fighting in the foreground. It is very difficult to specify what artists influenced Lanfranco. Poussin has been named repeatedly, and his influence is clearest in Lanfranco’s earlier works. Rubens should also be mentioned.

In recent decades, efforts have been made to establish the existence of a series of paintings related to the History of Rome -including the present work- that Philip IV’s representatives would have commissioned in that city and in Naples around 1634 for the Buen Retiro Palace. Today, twenty-eight extant works can be related to this project (most in the Museo del Prado or Patrimonio Nacional), along with another six mentioned in Charles II’s will but now lost or destroyed. This total of thirty-four paintings constitutes the largest group from the Retiro, including the Hall of Realms. The only larger group consists of mythological scenes that the king’s brother, Cardinal-Infante don Fernando, commissioned Rubens to paint for the Torre de la Parada. The size of the Roman group is the first indication of its importance in the new palace (Text drawn from Úbeda de los Cobos, A. in: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2005, pp. 169-170; 206-209).

Technical data

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Two Wrestlers
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Roman Naumachia
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Sacrifice for a Roman Emperor
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Vespasian’s Triumphal Entry in Rome
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Constantine’s Triumphal Entry in Rome
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Inventory number
Lanfranco, Giovanni di Stefano
Funeral Rites for a Roman Emperor
Ca. 1636
Height: 335 cm; Width: 488 cm
Historia de Roma Antigua, Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, 1701, no. 274; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "antecámara de la serenísima infanta", 1772, no. 114; New Royal Palace, "antecámara de las señoras infantas", 1794; Royal Palace, Madrid, "dormitorio de príncipes", 1814-1818)

Bibliography +

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, Madrid, 1834, pp. 44.

Voss, Hermann, Die Malerei des Barock in Rom, PropylaenVerlag, Berlín, 1924, pp. 521-527.

Longhi, Roberto, Viviano Codazzi e l' invenzione della veduta realistica, Paragone, 71, 1955, pp. 40-47.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura italiana del S. XVII en España, Universidad Fundación Valdecilla, Madrid, 1965.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura italiana del siglo XVII: exposición conmemorativa del ciento cincuenta aniversario de la Fundación del Museo del Prado, Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Madrid, 1970, pp. 340.

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

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España, VI, Madrid, 1972, pp. 36,225.

Brown, Jonathan, Un palacio para un rey: el Buen Retiro y la corte de Felipe IV, Alianza Editorial, Revista Occidente, Madrid, 1981, pp. 129-130/ lám.67.

Schleier, Erich, Disegni Di Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647), Leo S.Olschki Editore, Florencia, 1983, pp. 185-186/ lám.177.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 357-358.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura napolitana: de Caravaggio a Giordano, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 204/ lám.81.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, I, Garland PublishingInc., Nueva York.Londres, 1986, pp. 250/ lám.973.

Fernandez Miranda y Lozana, Fernando, Inventarios Reales Carlos III 1789-1790, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1988, pp. 48.

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

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., De pintura y pintores: la configuración de los modelos visuales, Alianza, Madrid, 1993, pp. lám.342.

Úbeda de los Cobos, A., El ciclo de la Historia de Roma antigua, En: El Palacio del Rey Planeta, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 169-189.

Úbeda de los Cobos, A., El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 206-209.

Goeppert, S., Pablo Picasso. The Illustrated Books : Catalogue Raisonne, Patrick Cramer, Madrid, 2005, pp. 206.

Luna, J. J., Guerra y pintura en las colecciones del Museo del Prado. S. XVI a Goya, Arte en tiempos de guerra Jornadas de Arte (14º.2008.Madrid), 2009.

Castillo Álvarez, Silvia, Marcos, muebles y maderas: obras de carpintería, ebasnistería y enmarcado en el Museo del Prado (1818-38), Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXIII, 2015, pp. 100-111 [102 nt.27, nt.31].

Marshall, Christopher R., Baroque Naples and the industry of painting, Yale University Press,, 2016, pp. 227-228.

Inventario Nuevo Palacio Real. 1772. 12847(114), Madrid.

Inventario Palacio Nuevo. 1794. 13945, Madrid.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [274].
Ottra [pinttura] de Zinco Uaras de largo y quattro de alto con la Pira o sepulcro del emperador deçio con los gladiadores Original de lanfranqui tasada en quinienttos doblones... 30.000

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 114.
Aantecámara de la Serenísima Infanta [...] {12847} 114 = Retiro / Vna pintura con vna pira que incendian vnos sacerdotes en exequias a Julio Cesar en el término principal hay varios gladiatores luchando y entre ellos algunos muertos de seis varas de largo y quatro de caida original de Juan Lanfranco

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s. n..
Antecamara de las Sªs. Ynfantas / {420} Seis varas de largo y quatro de alto, los Gladiadores romanos riñendo delante de una Pira que van à poner fuego en que está un cuerpo de un Emperador. Lanfranco ... 100.000

Inv. Fernando VII, La Granja, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
Dormitorio de Principes / Techo la Aurora [...] {21616} Julio Cesar en la pira = Lanfranco

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 884.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 884.
Lanfranco. / 884. Funerales o exequias de Julio Cesar. / En medio del cuerpo se eleva una pirámide de troncos de cedro rodeada de vasos que contienen bálsamos y perfumes. Sobre ella esta colocado el cadáver de Julio Cesar, tendido en una gran colcha de brocado y vestido magníficamente, con la cabeza descansando en un almoadon rojo bordado de oro. Al pie combaten varios gladiadores mientras los sacerdotes pegan fuego a la pira. Una inmensa muchedumbre asiste a la ceremonia. (C.N.) / Alto 12 pies; ancho 17 pies, 6 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 280.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 234.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 234.

Exhibitions +

El palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro
06.07.2005 - 30.10.2005

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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