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The Glory of Saints
Giaquinto, Corrado
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Giaquinto, Corrado

Molfetta, Apulia (Italy), 1703 - Naples (Italy), 1766

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The Glory of Saints

1755 - 1756. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

Standing on clouds at the center of the composition, Moses points toward the sunbeams shining down from the sky. Beneath him, Abraham and Isaac are accompanied by the sacrificial lamb. To the left of the composition, Saint Laurence and Saint Steven await the palm frond of martyrdom carried by angels; and to the right, we see the strong women of the Bible and King David.

This composition belongs to a series of sketches for the dome at the Royal Palace chapel. The 1789 inventory lists it and its companion pieces in the palace sacristy with a value of four thousand reales. It was seen there by Ponz and Ceán before 1818, when it entered the Museo del Prado. There, it was inventoried in 1849 as number 1842, and it has remained in the museum, although with a variety of titles, including Theological Matter (1872), Saint Steven in Glory and Saint Laurence in Glory, until 1985, when it was cataloged as The Glory of Saints.

Corrado Giaquinto had frequent contacts with Spain as of 1735 or earlier. But the death of Jacopo Amigoni in 1752 led to his being summoned to Madrid the next year. During his stay in the Spanish Court, he earned the highest honors given to a painter in that era. He became First Painter to the Court in August 1753 and director of the Academy of San Fernando that December. His main mission was the fresco decoration of the Royal Chapel and the current Staircase and Hall of Columns of the Royal Palace of Madrid. As preparatory work for the frescoes, he rendered the sketches presented in this exhibition. The first of these was the sketch for the entrance vault. The others were for the dome. The theme represented in the dome is the Coronation of the Virgin, in which the artist included countless saints, arranged in a somewhat confusing way. All this is supported by pendentives on which the artist painted Saint Isidoro, Saint Hermenegildo, Saint Isidro Labrador and Saint María de la Cabeza.

In the entrance vault appears the scene of the Battle of Clavijo. In the presbytery vault is painted the Trinity with Dead Christ. In the choir is painted the Three Theological Virtues. The work executed by Giaquinto on the fresco cycle in the Chapel was subject to the instructions issued by the Benedictine, Martín Sarmiento. As of 1743, Sarmiento was committed to the mission of drafting a document defining the elements required in the decoration of the New Palace then under construction. These elements would have to be both decorative and representative, thereby converting the royal residence into a symbol of the new Bourbon dynasty.

From then until when Charles III ascended to the throne, Sarmiento drafted an enormous volume of plans in which he sought to articulate the different manifestations of art (sculpture, painting, upholstery and epigraphy), creating what he defined as a decorating scheme. The scheme would show the greatness of the Spanish monarchy, its history, virtues, and role defending Catholicism. One of the most interesting features of this project was that artistic representations were subject to the dictates of the Benedictine. Artistic creativity was exercised in service of the laudatory message. Unfortunately, the documents drafted by Sarmiento for the painters have not been found. From the scanty records preserved, we know that the Marqués de Villarías commissioned Sarmiento to draft a report in August, 1747. He was to write about the subjects to be painted on the ceiling of the New Palace. A year later, Sarmiento delivered twenty-five plans for the ceiling of the chapel, which also have not been found. The loss of this highly important document makes it impossible to establish the degree to which the Giaquinto might have observed the monk´s dictates.

The four sketches, among which this work is, for the fresco cycle in the Chapel of the Royal Palace of Madrid (The Battle of Clavijo, P000106; The Trinity and Saints, P005441; Paradise, P005118) reveal the artist´s working method. He started with preliminary drawings in which he precisely defined figures and compositions. These works were so meticulously rendered that few changes would be introduced in the fresco. Their level of completion allows us to assume that these were sketches, or more properly, modelli. Giaquinto would have submitted these as proposals to the authorities for acceptance; they would subsequently be painted as frescoes. In their own time, these works were greatly appreciated, as can be seen in a notice of October 9, 1761, indicating that all the sketches rendered by Giaquinto for the decoration of the Royal Palace had been framed. This would have been done in order to group them for viewing, although nothing indicates this was ever actually carried through.

These works reveal the influence of the two painters to which the artist was most attracted: Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena. Also Neapolitans, the were excellent frescoists. Indeed, Giaquinto´s first work in Spain was restoring the Allegory of the Order of Toisón, which was painted by Giordano in 1697 in the main room of the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. Another example of their influence is the fresco picturing the Battle of Clavijo, in which Giaquinto took figures from the works of both masters. In fact, the general impression created by Giaquinto´s work is that it was very much influenced by Giaquinto´s work is that it was very much influence by Giordano. Starting with the confusion of the foreground battle, it is also evident in each successive plane as the images appear blurrier and more monochromatic. The background figures appear to be authentic grisailles, a treatment followed by Giordano on the Staircase of the Monastery of El Escorial (Battle of Saint Quentín) and in Appearance of the Virgin to St. Ferdinand, from the Church of the Hospicio in Madrid, to note two exemples (Text drawn from Úbeda de los Cobos, Andrés; The Majesty of Spain, Jackson, Mississippi, 2001, pp. 57-60).

The Majesty of Spain. Royal Collections From the Museo del P, Jackson,Mississipi, Mississipi Commission For Internati, 2001, p.57-60

Technical data

Related artworks

The Battle of Clavijo
Oil on canvas, 1755 - 1756
Giaquinto, Corrado
The Trinity
Oil on canvas, 1755 - 1756
Giaquinto, Corrado
Oil on canvas, 1754 - 1757
Giaquinto, Corrado
Inventory number
Giaquinto, Corrado
The Glory of Saints
1755 - 1756
Height: 97 cm; Width: 137 cm
Serie para la Capilla del Palacio Real
Royal Collection (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, sacristía, 1794, s.n.; ¿Palacio Real, Madrid, dormitorio de príncipes-habitación del infante don Carlos, 1814-1818, s. n.?)

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catalogo de los cuadros, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1952, pp. 231.

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

Urrea Fernández, Jesús, La pintura italiana del siglo XVIII en España, Secretariado de Publicaciones de la Universidad, Valladolid, 1977, pp. 141.

L' art européen á la cour d'Espagne au XVIIIe siecle, Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris, 1979, pp. 180.

Giltay, G., Malerei Aus Erster Hand Olskizzen Von Tintoretto Bis Goya, Mobil, Amsterdam, 1983.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 244.

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

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 335.

Milicua, José, El bodegón español: de Zurbarán a Picasso, Fundación Bilbao Bizkaia KutxaMuseo de Bellas Arte, Bilbao, 1999, pp. ?.

The Majesty of Spain. Royal Collections From the Museo del P, Mississipi Commission For Internati, Jackson,Mississipi, 2001, pp. 57-60.

Pérez Sánchez, A. E. (ed.), Corrado Giaquinto y España, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2006, pp. 210.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 354.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 43 n.189.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1842.
Corrado / 1842. Boceto de un techo. / Alto 3 pies, 5 pulg; Ancho 4 pies, 11 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 126.
126.-Asunto teológico. / Alto 0,97. Ancho 1,37.-Lienzo. / Aparecen entre nubes varios grupos de personajes de la antigua ley, como Moisés y Aaron, Abrahan é Isaac, Jacob, David, Abigail, etc.; y á la izquierda, sobre otra nube, por la cual pasan dos ángeles llevando la palma y la corona de los mártires, se ve á san Estéban.

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. ¿s. n.?.
Dormitorio de Principes [...] Habitacion del Señor Infante Don Carlos [...] {21817} siete quartas largo vara alto varias alegorias = Corrado

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s. n..
Sacristia [...] {590} Tres [quadros] de vara y media de largo, por vara de alto. Borrones de la Voveda de la Capilla de Palacio. Ydem [Corràdo] ... 12.000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

Corrado Giaquinto
04.04.2006 - 25.06.2006

Tha majesty of spain. Royal collections from the Museo del Prado & patrimonio nacional (La majestad de España)
Jackson MS
01.03.2001 - 03.09.2001

Displayed objects +


Harp, diatonic: Modelo de arpa inspirado en los modelos de arpa gótica. La columna está rematada en una voluta en la que termina también el clavijero. La caja de resonancia presenta costillas, al estilo de las arpas españolas de fines del siglo XVII y principios del XVIII. Tiene unas 15 cuerdas que se atan tanto en el clavijero como en la voluta, lo que refuerza la escasa verosimilitud del instrumento. La posición de las manos del tañedor y la naturaleza poco realista del instrumento nos hace pensar que el autor tomase este motivo de una fuente precedente reinterpretándola.
A partir de la Edad Media se consideró este instrumento como atributo del rey David, aunque también se representó a David con otros cordófonos, tanto de arco como pulsados.

Palm leaf

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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