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Roman Soldiers in the Circus
Falcone, Aniello
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Falcone, Aniello

Naples (Italy), 1607 - Naples, 1656

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Roman Soldiers in the Circus

Ca. 1640. Oil on canvas.
Room 006

The story of the Museo del Prado’s Roman Soldiers at the Circus is similar to that of Roman Athletes (P92) and to Andrea di Lione’s Elephants at a Circus (P91). This artist passed through Falcone’s workshop and his works have often been mistaken for those of his teacher. As is often the case in the History of Rome cycle, it is difficult to date this work, which is not mentioned by any contemporaneous authors. Lacking precise historical information, we could suggest a date around 1640, close to Di Lione’s fresco at the chapel of Saint Agatha in the Neapolitan church of San Paolo Maggiore. The soldiers in that work vividly recall those in the Prado’s painting. In any case, it cannot be later than 1643, when the Count-Duke of Olivares fell from grace. Its clearest influence is Poussin, whose Meleager’s Hunt (P2320) has often been related to the present work, although it has not yet been possible to define the terms of that relationship. A drawing at the Galleria degli Uffizi appears to be a study for this painting, although the general composition of its figures is close to one of the plates that Giacomo Lauro included in his book, Maraviglie della Roman antica -specifically, the one titled De dignitate militari apud romanos, which appears reversed in Falcone’s reproduction.

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; 202-203).

Technical data

Inventory number
Falcone, Aniello
Roman Soldiers in the Circus
Ca. 1640
Height: 92 cm; Width: 183 cm
Historia de Roma Antigua, Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, no. 233; New Royal Palace, Madrid, secretaría de Estado, 1814-1818, no. 233)

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catalogo de los cuadros, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1952, pp. 128.

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. 236.

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

Civiltà del Seicento a Napoli, Electa, Nápoles, 1984, pp. 263.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 218.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura napolitana: de Caravaggio a Giordano, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 124 / lám. 35.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, I, Garland PublishingInc., 1986, pp. 305 / lám. 1246.

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

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 190.

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. 202-203.

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.

Di Penta, Miriam., Andrea de Leone: (Napoli, 1610-1685). Dipinti - disegni, De Luca Editori d'Arte,, 2016, pp. 46,49-50 f.69. p58-59, 70-71 f.78.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 106.
106.-Soldados romanos en el circo. / Alto 0,92. Ancho 1,83.-Lienzo. / Forman un peloton de unos veinte jinetes, montados en arrogantes caballos, vestidos con coraza, clámide y casco, y armados de espada y lanza, marchando con cierto órden y hablando unos con otros en torno de la meta de un espacioso circo romano, cuyas graderías ocupan espectadores de todas edades y condiciones.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1860.
Castiglioni / 1860. Marcha de soldados romanos a caballo en el arco. / Alto 3 pies, 4 pulg; ancho 6 pies, 6 pulg.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 233.
Otra [pintura] de Carlos Lebrum. Una Legion Romana de Soldados á caballo con lanzas: de 7 quartas de largo y vara de alto, con marco biejo...6000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 233.
Secretaría de Estado [...] {22248} 233 / Dos varas y tercia de largo vara de alto, el triunfo de un general romano con muchos soldados de a caballo y en primer término dos de estos blancos y alguans columnas

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

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

Homo Ludens. El juego en las colecciones del Museo del Prado
30.05.2002 - 29.09.2002

Homo Ludens: le jeu dans les collections du Museo del Prado
29.05.2002 - 22.09.2002

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

Location +

Room 006 (On Display)


Displayed objects +



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

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