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Still-Life with Game Birds and a Hare
Castillo, José del
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Castillo, José del

Madrid (Spain), 1737 - Madrid (Spain), 1793

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Still-Life with Game Birds and a Hare

1774. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

This work is a cartoon for an over-door tapestry intended for the Prince of Asturias’s chambers at the palace in San Lorenzo del Escorial. Long classified as an anonymous painting in the Museo del Prado’s catalogs, it can now be attributed without doubt to José del Castillo and considered a cartoon for a tapestry from the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara, where the artist worked for many years. Its composition has a low viewpoint that emphasizes its monumentality, with a sense of relief that is strengthened by the presentation of the main objects in the very immediate foreground. A broad stone base that suggests classical ruins has been overrun by trees and bushes that, in turn, bear a climbing grapevine, indicating nature’s dominion over human creations. Various dead birds and a hare, possibly game from a day of hunting, are stacked at the foot of the trunks along with some fruit, and the group is completed by a small birdcage on the left. That bucolic traditional element is a reflection of the search for nature that was so characteristic of that period. Behind the apparently haphazard presentation of these elements, a wooded landscape and a broad sky serve as a backdrop, reflecting the artist’s mastery at creating original compositions.

The document from the Royal Factory indicates that it depicts various birds with a hare, grouped with fruit and construction ruins; its price 1000 Reales de vellón. The tapestry made from this cartoon was specifically intended as an over-door hanging in the Prince of Asturias’s chambers at the palace of the Bourbons in the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. It was delivered on January 20, 1774 and the corresponding tapestry is now at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

This work clearly illustrates how the Royal Tapestry Factory continued to use models based on Flemish and Italian traditions, as this cartoon particularly recalls works by Mariano Nani. Its quality is undeniable and its originality, admirable, with a clear taste for balanced compositions and references to classical Antiquity. It was painted at the dawning of the Neoclassical era, and Castillo was well prepared for it, as two long periods studying in Rome had also allowed him to visit the ruins at Herculaneum, near Naples.

Castillo’s skill and his interpretative refinement are patent here in both his conception of the composition’s pyramidal form, and in his use of color and light to affirm the piece’s decorative values (Text drawn from Luna, J. J.: El bodegón español en el Prado. De Van der Hamen a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p. 128).


Technical data

Inventory number
Castillo, José del
Still-Life with Game Birds and a Hare
Height: 134 cm; Width: 134 cm
Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara, Madrid; Royal Palace, Madrid, First Half of Nineteenth Century; Prado Museum, 1870.

Bibliography +

Sambricio, Valentín de, José del Castillo, pintor de tapices, Archivo español de arte, 23, 1950, pp. 282.

Sambricio, Valentín de, José del Castillo., C.S.I.C.Inst.Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1958, pp. lám.14.

Held, Jutta, Die Genrebilder der Madrider Teppichmanufaktur und die Anfänge Goyas, Gebr. Mann Verlag, Berlín, 1971, pp. 135-136, nº 222.

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

Antonio Rafael Mengs: 1728-1779, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1980, pp. 170.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura española de bodegones y floreros de 1600 a Goya, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1983, pp. 171.

Aguilar Olivencia, Mariano, El Palacio de Buenavista. Vol. I, III, [s.n], Madrid, 1984, pp. 55.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., La nature morte espagnole du XVII sièecle a Goya, Office du Livre; Vilo, Friburg, 1987, pp. 193/ lám.204.

Portela Sandoval, Francisco Jose, La pintura del siglo XVIII, Vicens-Vives, Barcelona, 1990, pp. 184/ lám.110.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (III). Nuevas Adquisiciones. Museo Iconográfico. Tapices., Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. nº5715 (Inv. cart. tapices).

I Congreso Internacional de pintura española, I Congreso internacional de pintura española del siglo XVIII, Museo grabado español contemporaneo, Madrid, 1998, pp. 611.

Luna, Juan J., El bodegón español en el Prado: de Van der Hamen a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 128/129.

Sánchez López, Andrés, La pintura de bodegones y floreros en España en el siglo XVIII, Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2008, pp. 672.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Las aves en el Museo del Prado, SEO/BirdLife, 2010, pp. 195/196,222.

Other inventories +

Inv. Cartones para Tapices. Núm. 5715.
5715 / Varias aves con una liebre, todo muerto, interpolado con frutas, puesto sobre un pedazo de capitel de columna. / Ancho 1,34 alto 1,34 / José del Castillo

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in brown color. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Goya y la corte ilustrada
14.02.2018 - 28.05.2018

Goya y la corte ilustrada
27.09.2017 - 21.01.2018

El bodegón español en el Prado
24.03.2011 - 26.06.2011

El bodegón español en el Prado
11.03.2010 - 06.06.2010

El bodegón español en el Prado
12.10.2009 - 14.02.2010

El bodegón español en el Prado
25.06.2009 - 20.09.2009

El bodegón español en el Prado
31.03.2009 - 31.05.2009

El bodegón español en el Prado
24.09.2008 - 30.11.2008

Displayed objects +


Update date: 31-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2018

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