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Landscape with Leto and the Peasants Transformed into Frogs
Agüero, Benito Manuel de
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Agüero, Benito Manuel de

Madrid (Spain), 1626 - Madrid (Spain), 1668

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Landscape with Leto and the Peasants Transformed into Frogs

Third quarter of the XVII century. Oil on canvas. Not on display

This work´s subject is quite uncommon in Spanish painting, although frequent in Italian seicento works. It is drawn from Ovid´s Metamorphoses (VI, 337-382), which narrates how, fleeing Juno, Leto arrives at Lycia with her two children by Jupiter, Apollo and Diana. Despite her thirst, the local peasants hinder her efforts to drink in a small pond, and in her rage, she converts them into frogs. Of course, this subject can be interpreted as a moral lesson in praise of charity and against those who lack it, or love for their fellow human beings. That is probably why it appears with certain frequency in Catholic baroque works.

Agüero´s composition clearly recalls Claude Lorraine´s interpretation of Roman classicism in works Agüero unquestionably studied at the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. He must especially have drawn on those that arrived in Madrid around 1640, which presented scenes from the Bible in vertical formats. These are the origin of Agüero´s landscape backgrounds, the backlit silhouettes of trees in movement, and even the rather medieval architecture.

The group of Leto and her two children is a free interpretation of Charity, a well-known composition by Van Dyck of which there are numerous copies. The most famous of these was at Dulwich College until another, now considered the original, was discovered in a private Swiss collection (Larsen, E.: L´opera completa di Van Dyck, 1626-1641, Milan, 1980, no. 641). Its unquestionable influence on the present work and the existence of a rather good copy at the Museo del Prado (Boletín del Museo del Prado, vol. III, no. 7, 1982, p. 51, P4721) indicate that Van Dyck´s painting was well known in Spain. The fact that the group directly reflects the arrangement on Van Dyck´s original proves that Agüero was drawing on a painting rather than on the excellent print by Cornelis van Coukercken, who reproduced it in reverse. As E. du Gué Trapier showed, that engraving was well known by painters in Madrid at that time.

The present work comes from Aranjuez and is part of the series that the inventory of that Royal Seat drawn up in 1700 by Mazo´s son, Gabriel de Mazo y Velázquez, assigned to Benito Manuel Agüero. Later, in 1794, it was attributed to Mazo, under whose name it entered the Museo del Prado and was catalogued. Finally, in 1933, at Tormo´s suggestion, Sánchez Cantón reassigned it to the artist who clearly appears to be its author. This work and all of the other landscapes in the series (P890 to P894), almost all with small mythological figures, were formerly attributed to Mazo. But Elías Tormo observed that in 1700, when one of Mazo´s sons was the caretaker at Aranjuez Palace, thirty-three landscapes of various sizes that coincide with several of those now at the Museo del Prado were registered at that royal seat under Agüero´s name. Studies of their technique confirm that they are not by Mazo´s hand.

Technical data

Related artworks

Landscape with Dido and Aeneas
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVII century
Paisaje con la salida de Eneas de Cartago
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVII century
Landscapes with Two Figures
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVII century
Inventory number
P000897
Author
Agüero, Benito Manuel de
Title
Landscape with Leto and the Peasants Transformed into Frogs
Date
Third quarter of the XVII century
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 244 cm.; Width: 219 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Aranjuez Palace, Madrid, 1700 and 1794).

Bibliography +

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

López Torrijos, Rosa, La mitología en la pintura española del siglo XVII, Editorial de la Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1982, pp. 1184.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 4.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo, Ministerio de Cultura. Banco Herrero, Madrid, 1986, pp. 276.

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

Doval Trueba, Mª del Mar, Los paisajes de Agüero, Goya: revista de arte, 286, 2002, pp. 14.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1961.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 2854.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 800.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 897.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 897.

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Update date: 05-03-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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