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The Continence of Scipio
Aspertini, Amico; Aspertini, Guido
Close Continuar a ficha de la obra
Aspertini, Amico
Bologna (Italy), 1471 - Bologna (Italy), 1522
Aspertini, Guido
Bologna (Italy), 1467 - Bologna (Italy), 1504

The Continence of Scipio

1496. Oil on panel.
Room 056B

This painting and The Rape of the Sabines (P524) were part of the decoration of two cassoni commissioned in May 1496 in Bologna by Lodovico da Sala from the painter Guido Aspertini. These paintings were commissioned for the betrothal of his daughter Angelica to Giovan Battista Bolognetti held in August of that year. Certain elements of The Continence of Scipio also suggest that these panels are associated with this marriage. For example, the female figure in the foreground holding a palm branch in one hand and a staff crowned by a helmet with an angel in the other has been interpreted as an allusion to the bride’s name.

Although only Guido Aspertini is mentioned in the contract, critics acknowledge the participation of his younger brother Amico. His absence from the document may be explained by the fact that he was in Rome accompanying his father, Giovanni Antonio Aspertini, who was also a painter. In fact, these works are similar to other works by Amico painted before 1500, namely The Adoration of the Shepherds (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), with which they share the same treatment of the flora. Moreover, they would be inconceivable without the artist’s stay in Rome. This Roman sojourn would explain not only Amico’s debts to Pinturicchio but also the reference to many figures from classical statuary. This is the case in both The Rape of the Sabines (where the reference to Belvedere’s Apollo in the Roman warrior wearing armour and a red cloak is obvious) and The Continence of Scipio, some of whose figures come from the Trajan’s Column.

Whether at the client’s request or by the painters’ own initiative, the panels illustrate passages from classical Rome, a common practice at the time. These include the rape of the Sabines and the delivery of Publius Cornelius Scipio’s fiancée to the barbarian chief Allutius, who had been enslaved after the capture of Carthage. As is customary on the cassoni, the scenes contain moral lessons. Scipio’s scene was interpreted as a praise of continence and a reference to the husband’s generosity. However, contemporary writers such as Balthasar Castiglione and Marco Antonio Altieri transformed the rape of the Sabines into a glorification of the Roman woman, capable of sacrificing herself for the sake of family and homeland.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura italiana del Renacimiento: guía, Madrid, Museo del PradoAldeasa, 1999, p.83

Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Aspertini, Amico; Aspertini, Guido
The Continence of Scipio
Height: 46 cm; Width: 157 cm; Base/bottom: 1.9 cm
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Eusebi, Luis, Noticia de los cuadros que se hallan colocados en la Galería del Museo del Rey Nuestro Señor, sito en el Prado de esta Corte, Hija de don Francisco Martínez Dávila, impresor de Cámara de Su Majestad, Madrid, 1828.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, Madrid, 1834, pp. 44.

Berenson, Bernard, North Italian Painters of the Renaissance, G. P. Putnam's Sons, Nueva York-Londres, 1907, pp. 164-166.

Dayot, Armand, Le Prado de Madrid, I, Editions Pierre Lafitte, Paris, 1914, pp. 255.

Ricci, Corrado, Gli Aspertini, L'ARTE, 18, 1915, pp. 101.

Grassi, L., Considerazioni e novità su Amico Aspertini e Jacopo Ripanda, ARTE ANTICA E MODERNA, 1964, pp. 58.

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

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: pintura italiana anterior a 1600, Gredos, Madrid, 1979, pp. 58-60.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 506.

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, Pintura italiana del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 1999, pp. 83.

Mena, M. Albarrán, V, La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 8 n.12 n.13.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 525.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 525.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 574.

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. 705.
SIGUE LA ESCUELA ITALIANA [...] Siete cientos y cinco. La Continencia de Escipión / de Pinturiechio / Tª / 2.380

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 889.
Escuela de Siena (compañero del nº 885) / 889. La continencia de Escipion. / Escipion, despues de la toma de Cartagena devuelve alucio la joven y hermosa princesa con quien estaba desposado, y añade a su dote la cuantiosa suma del rescate que los parientes de ella le habian ofrecido (tabla.) / Alto 1 pie, 11 pulg; ancho 5 pies, 10 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 889.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

Amico Aspertini 1575-1552, e il suo tempo
27.09.2008 - 26.01.2009

Location +

Room 056B (On Display)

Update date: 08-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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