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The Circus Maximus in Rome
Codazzi, Viviano; Gargiulo, Domenico, called Micco Spadaro
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Codazzi, Viviano-
Bergamo, 1604 - Rome, 1670-
Gargiulo, Domenico, called Micco Spadaro-
Naples, 1609, 1675-

The Circus Maximus in Rome

Ca. 1638. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

This is one of four depictions of spectacles from ancient Rome that Domenico Gargiulo and Viviano Codazzi painted for the large History of Rome series at the Buen Retiro Palace. Of those four, in which Gargiulo painted the figures and Codazzi the architecture, two more have survived: Perspective of a Roman Amphitheater (P2632) and Perspective of a Gymnasium (P6210). The fourth, now lost, is listed in Charles II’s will (1701) and was probably of a naumachy, or mock sea battle.

As with most of the works in this series, this painting’s date is very uncertain. A late date, between 1639 and 1644, has generally been accepted, as that coincides with other known commissions by G. B. Pisante, prior of the charterhouse of San Martino and intermediary for the Duke of Medina de las Torres in his own purchases of paintings. David R. Marshall was the first to question Pisante’s involvement in this project. He suggested earlier dates, between 1634 and 1638, but this seems too early, especially compared to Gargiulo and Codazzi’s Triumphs. Giancarlo Sestieri seems to have taken a more appropriate approach in his suggestion that these paintings could be from around 1638, and therefore later than those Triumphs.

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; 196-199).

Technical data

Inventory number
Codazzi, Viviano; Gargiulo, Domenico, called Micco Spadaro
The Circus Maximus in Rome
Ca. 1638
Height: 218 cm; Width: 352 cm
Historia de Roma Antigua, Palacio del Buen Retiro
Carlo Maratti Collection; Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701, no. 110; Buen Retiro Palace, "cuarto del infante don Luis-pinturas apeadas", 1772, no. 110; Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, no. 1064).

Bibliography +

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. 196-199.

Goeppert, S., Pablo Picasso. The Illustrated Books : Catalogue Raisonne, Patrick Cramer, Madrid, 2005, pp. 196-199.

Orihuela, M.; Pérez, L., El Prado Disperso. Obras depositadas en las embajadas de Atenas, Bruselas, Roma y Santa Sede, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXI, 2013, pp. 176-181 [177].

Marshall, Christopher R., Baroque Naples and the industry of painting, Yale University Press,, 2016, pp. 228,237.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 2702.
Castiglioni. / 2702. Los juegos olimpicos. / Alto 7 pies, 10 pulg; Ancho 12 pies, 6 ps, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1922.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 555.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [110].
[110] Ottra [pintura] de quattro Uaras de largo y ttres menos quarta de alto con Vna prespectiua Original de Vidiano y las figuras de Anelo falconi del Circo de Roma Con el Zertamen de la Carrera con marco tallado y dorado tasada en Zien doblones ... 6000

Inv. Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1772. Núm. ¿110?.
Quarto del Infante don Luis - de las apeadas [...] {15247} 110 / Vn anfiteatro de Roma con varias carreras de caballos de quatro varas y media de largo y tres de caida = [al margen y a lápiz= "¿Codagora?"]

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 1064.
{3427} 1064 / Otra [pintura] de Fernando de Viviena, con el Corso de Vigas en el Circo Maximo: de dos varas y tres quartas de alto y quatro varas de ancho ... 3000

Location +

Bruselas - Embajada de España en Bruselas (Deposit)

Displayed objects +


Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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