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Olympus. The Battle of the Giants
Bayeu, Francisco
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Bayeu, Francisco

Zaragoza, 1734 - Madrid, 1795

Bayeu, Francisco See author's file

Olympus. The Battle of the Giants

1767 - 1768. Oil on canvas.
Room 089

Francisco Bayeu, who came from minor nobility, trained in Zaragoza under José Luzán (who, years later, would also teach Francisco de Goya). However, a decisive change in the young Bayeu´s style came about under the influence of Antonio González Velázquez (1723-93), who visited Zaragoza soon after returning from Italy in 1752, carrying models and drawings by his Italian teacher Corrado Giaquinto (1703-65). Bayeu produced works inspired by these works of Giaquinto, which led to him being awarded a scholarship in 1758 to attend classes with González at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Bayeu´s studies were cut short, however, due to his ill-temper and, after a quarrel with his teacher, he returned to Zaragoza where he remained until 1763. In that year he returned to Madrid, called to the court on Anton Raphael Mengs´s recommendation that Bayeu serve as his assistant on the decoration of the Royal Palace. From that point on, Bayeu began his ascent in official circles and obtained various important commissions, becoming the most prominent painter in Madrid. His influence extended even to Goya, who at one point declared himself Bayeu´s disciple and later married Bayeu´s sister, Josefa. An artist of manifest skill and inventiveness, Bayeu was one of the most productive fresco painters in the history of Spanish art and he drew on a wealth of pictorial resources. An extraordinary draughtsman and a refined colourist, his work evolved from a baroque style, characterised by warm tones and distantly indebted to Luca Giordano, to restrained compositions in a consistently neoclassical style, reflecting the teachings of Mengs. Initially, however, Bayeu was most influenced by Giaquinto; having perfectly assimilated that artist´s delicate style, Bayeu became one of the most exquisite exponents of Rococo, as is apparent in Olympus: The Battle of the Giants. This canvas is a preparatory sketch for a ceiling fresco in the Dining Room and Ballroom of the Royal Apartments of the Princess of Asturias, María Luisa of Parma, in Madrid´s Royal Palace. The room was painted in 1764, and later became the Daily Dining Room. In his description of the allegorical paintings that decorated the palace ceilings published in 1829, Francisco José Fabre explained the painting´s complicated subject matter: drawing inspiration from texts by Homer, Apollodorus, Ovid and Virgil, the scene depicts the Giants´ efforts to conquer the home of the Gods on Mount Olympus and its defence by Jupiter and his immortal siblings. Among them is Hercules, who felled Titan, the most powerful leader of the assailants. One preparatory sketch for the work is now in the National Library of Spain (Biblioteca Nacional de España), and the Museo del Prado houses around 20 sketches with partial studies for various figures. A copy of the present sketch is in Cogullada (Zaragoza) and another, in grisaille, belongs to the Real Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País in Zaragoza. In both the sketch and the fresco, the growing influence of Mengs is clear. Although the fruits of Bayeu´s training with the German painter are evident here, also apparent in the general arrangement of the composition and in certain figures is the spirit of a luminous, decorative baroque style inspired by Giordano, with dazzling evocations of Giaquinto (Luna, J. J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 116).

Technical data

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Inventory number
Bayeu, Francisco
Olympus. The Battle of the Giants
1767 - 1768
Height: 68 cm; Width: 123 cm
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Fabre, Francisco Jose, Descripcion de la Alegorias Pintadas en las Bovedas del Real..., Eusebio Aguado, Madrid, 1829, pp. 28.

Aguilera, Emiliano M., Pintores españoles del siglo XVIII, Iberia Joaquin Gil, Barcelona, 1946, pp. 20.

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, Breve historia de la pintura española, Tecnos, Madrid, 1953, pp. 394.

Sambricio, Valentín de, Francisco Bayeu, Instituto Diego Velázquez, 1955, pp. 35.

Ars hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico, Plus Ultra, Madrid, 1965, pp. 184.

Exposicion de Arte Español, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Tokio, 1970, pp. nº90.

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

Puente, Joaquín de la, Del Greco a Goya, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1978.

L' art européen á la cour d'Espagne au XVIIIe siecle, Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris, 1979, pp. 49.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Panorama de la pintura española desde los Reyes Católicos a, Servicio de Publicaciones del Instituto de Coopera, Madrid, 1980, pp. 114.

Pita Andrade, José Manuel, Ob el Grieka Ob Goje, Narodni Muzei, Belgrado, 1981, pp. 26.

Mulrey, Jeremy, Palace decoration at the spanish Bourbon court during the XVIII century, Apollo, 113/4, 1981, pp. 228.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 38.

Luna, Juan J., Spanish Painting of 18th and 19th Century. Goya and His Time, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokio, 1987, pp. 70,71.

Symmons, Sarah, Goya. In Pursuit of Patronage, Gordon Fraser, Londres, 1988, pp. 40.

Painting in Spain during the later eighteenth century, The National Gallery, Londres, 1989, pp. 40.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº500.

Mangiante, Paolo Erasmo, Goya e l' Italia, Fratelli Palombi, Roma, 1992, pp. 22/ lám.17.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Madrid, 1994, pp. 166.

Morales y Marín, José Luis, Francisco Bayeu. Vida y obra, Ediciones Moncayo, Zaragoza, 1995, pp. 82.

Francisco Bayeu: 1734-1795 : exposición Zaragoza, 18 abril-1, Museo e Instituto de Humanidades "Camón Aznar", Zaragoza, 1996, pp. 214.

Bray, Xavier, Madrid: Bayeu drawings at the Prado, The Burlington magazine, 138, 1996, pp. 55.

Kasl, Ronda, Painting in spain in the age of enlightenment: Goya and his, University of Washington Press, Washington, 1997, pp. 168.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Goya y la pintura española del siglo XVIII: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2000.

The Majesty of Spain. Royal collections from the Museo del Prado and the Patrimonio Nacional presented by The Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange, Mississipi Commission For International Cultural Exchange, Jackson, 2001, pp. 81.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 174.

Mano, José Manuel de la, Mariano Maella y la decoración de la Casa del Labrador: programas pictóricos para una villa rural de Carlos IV, Reales Sitios, 43 / 170, 2006, pp. nº 84.

Carlos IV: mecenas y coleccionista, Patrimonio Nacional; Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales, Madrid, 2009, pp. 155-156.

Mano, José Manuel de la, Mariano Salvador Maella. Poder e imagen en la España de la Ilustración, Fundación Arte Hispano, Madrid, 2011, pp. 140-142.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 116-117 nº19.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 364.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 44 n.196.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, 'De monarcas, traidores y amantes depechados.' En:, Las Furias. Alegoría política y desafío artístico, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 63-74 [64].

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., Azúa, F. de, La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado - Obra Social ''La Caixa'', Barcelona, 2014, pp. 165.

Prado captive beauty: treasures from the Prado Museum, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2015, pp. n.69.

Mano, Jose Manuel de la, 'Francisco Bayeu y Subías. El Olimpo. La caída de los Gigantes' En:, Carlos III Majestad y ornato en los escenarios de un rey ilustrado, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2016, pp. 181-186 n.53.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 500.
Bayeu. / 500. El Olimpo. / Boceto de un techo ejecutado en el Real Pala- / cio de Madrid. / Alto 2 pies, 5 pulg; ancho 4 pies, 4 pulg, 10 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 500.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 659.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 604.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 604.

Exhibitions +

Carlos III y las Residencias Reales. Ornato y Majestad en los escenarios del Rey Ilustrado
02.12.2016 - 07.05.2017

Captive Beauty. Treasures from The Prado Museum
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Carlos IV, mecenas y coleccionista
22.04.2009 - 19.07.2009

Tha majesty of spain. Royal collections from the Museo del Prado & patrimonio nacional (La majestad de España)
Jackson MS
01.03.2001 - 03.09.2001

Paintings in Spain in the age of enligtenment: Goya and his contemporaries
Indianapolis IN
23.11.1996 - 19.01.1997

Pintura Española del Siglo XVIII
14.03.1989 - 31.05.1989

Goya y su tiempo: Pintura Española de los siglos XVIII y XIX
29.04.1987 - 06.09.1987

Location +

Room 089 (On Display)

Update date: 07-07-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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