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Roman Naumachia
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

Roman Naumachia

Ca. 1635. Oil on canvas.
Room 005

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 (P234); Gladiators at a Banquet (P3091) and Roman Naumachia- 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

Inventory number
Lanfranco, Giovanni di Stefano
Roman Naumachia
Ca. 1635
Height: 181 cm; Width: 362 cm
Historia de Roma Antigua, Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701-1703; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera pieza-cuarto nuevo de la serenísima infanta", 1772, no. 499; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de trucos", 1794, no. 499; Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de trucos", 1814-1818, no. 499)

Bibliography +

Inventario Palacio Nuevo. 1772, Madrid, 1772.

Inventario Palacio Nuevo. 1794, Madrid, 1794.

Inventario Palacio Real de Madrid. 1814, Madrid, 1814.

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. 334.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 352.

Fernández Bayton, Gloria, Inventarios reales. Testamentaría del Rey Carlos II, 1701-1703, I, Museo del Prado, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 317.

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

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

Fernandez Miranda y Lozana, Fernando, Inventarios Reales Carlos III 1789-1790, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1988, pp. 16.

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

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds MercatorFundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 270.

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. 207-211.

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.

Ponz, A., Viage de España, VI, Madrid, pp. 37,225.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1151.
Lanfranco./ 1151. Simulacro de un combate naval con abordaje, entre romanos./A lo lejos se ve el pueblo apiñado en el muelle contemplando el espectaculo./Alto 6 pies, 6 pulg; ancho 13 pies.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1151.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 283.
283.-Naumaquia romana. / Alto 1,81. Ancho 3,62.-Lienzo. / Simulacro de un combate naval con abordaje. A lo léjos se ve al pueblo apiñado en el anfiteatro, contemplando el espectáculo. / Colec. de Carlos III, Pal. nuevo de Madrid. Cuarto nuevo de la Infanta. Pieza primera.

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 499.
Primera Pieza - Quarto de la Serma Infanta [...] {12891-12892} 499-114 / = Retiro = Dos [quadros] iguales el vno de vn sacrificio de gentiles y el otro vna batalla de gladiatores en vnas barcas de quatro varas de largo y dos de caida originales del mismo autor

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 499.
Pieza de Trucos [...] {21181-21182} 499 y 114 / Quatro varas largo dos y media alto un sacrificio = batalla en un barco = Lanfranco

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 499.
Pieza de Trucos [...] {44} 499 y 114 / Dos [quadros] de quatro varas de largo y dos y media de alto: Un sacrificio el uno, y el otro una Batalla, en un Barco, á veinte y quatro mil reales cada uno. Lanfranco ... 48.000

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. s. n..
[498] Una Pinttura de quattro Uaras de largo y siette quartas de alto de Una Batalla de dos Nauios delantte del senado Romano original del Cauallero Lan franji con marco tallado y dorado tassada en sesenta doblones ... 3.600

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

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

Location +

Room 005 (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Weapons / Arms

Transport, Maritime / Transport, River

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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