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The Allocution of a Roman Emperor
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

The Allocution of a Roman Emperor

Ca. 1638. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

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); The Allocution of a Roman Emperor; Funeral Rites for a Roman Emperor (P00234); Gladiators at a Banquet (P3091) and Roman Naumachia (P235) -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
The Allocution of a Roman Emperor
Ca. 1638
Height: 230 cm; Width: 332 cm
Historia de Roma Antigua, Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701, no. 407; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera pieza-cuarto nuevo de la serenísima infanta", 1772, no. 407; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de tocador", 1794, no. 407; Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza encarnada", 1814-1818, no. 407).

Bibliography +

Inventario Nuevo Palacio Real 1772., Madrid, 1772, pp. 12890(407).

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España: en que se da noticia de las cosas mas apreciables, y dignas de saberse, que hay en ella, V, Atlas, Madrid, 1794; ed. facs. 1972, pp. 37.

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.

Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II : 1701-1, Museo del PradoPatronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 16.

Schleier, Erich, Disegni Di Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647), Leo S.Olschki Editore, Florencia, 1983, pp. 186.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 359.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura napolitana: de Caravaggio a Giordano, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 204/ lám.80.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, Garland PublishingInc., New York, 1986, pp. 286.

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

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.

Marshall, Christopher R., Baroque Naples and the industry of painting, Yale University Press,, 2016, pp. 227-228.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1105.
Lanfranco. / 1105. Soldados romanos despues de una victoria. / Reciben coronas de laurel de mano de un consul o un emperador, que les dirige una alocucion desde un parage elevado / Alto 8 pies, 3 pulg; ancho 11 pies, 11 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1105.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 281.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1985. Núm. 2943.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [407].
[407] Ottra [pintura] del mismo tamaño [ttres baras y media de largo y ttres menos quarta de altto] y marco [tallado y dorado] que la antezedente de la elecçion de emperador Romano original de Cauallero lan franqui tasada en Zien doblones ... 6000

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 407.
Primera Pieza - Quarto de la Serma Infanta [...] {12890} 407 / = Retiro = Otro [quadro] que representa vn Capitan general repartiendo premios entre sus soldados de quatro varas de largo y tres menos quarta de caida original de Juan Lanfranco

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 407.
Pieza Encarnada [...] {21650} 407 / Cuatro varas de largo tres de alto, funcion de Baco = General premiando a sus soldados Lanfranco

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 407.
Pieza de Tocador [...] {439} 407 / Quatro varas de largo y tres de alto. Un General premiando sus Soldados. Lanfranco ... 30.000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Signed. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Intercambio con Patrimonio Nacional
11.02.2008 - 01.06.2008

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

Displayed objects +

Weapons / Arms


Update date: 30-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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