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The Meadow of San Isidro
Castillo, José del
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Castillo, José del

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

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The Meadow of San Isidro

1785. Oil on canvas Room 094

This work is a preparatory sketch for a tapestry of extraordinary dimensions -nearly eight metres in length and over three metres tall- intended for the bedchamber of the Prince and Princess of Asturias in the royal palace of El Pardo. José del Castillo, a student of Corrado Giaquinto in Rome and Madrid, joined the group of painters working for the Royal Tapestry Manufactory in 1765 on the initiative of Anton Raphael Mengs, court painter to Charles III. Castillo worked in this context until his death in 1793. The sketch represents a pilgrimage near the hermitage of San Isidro situated on the outskirts of Madrid. Here, according to legend, Isidore the Labourer (c.1080-1172), Madrid´s patron saint, was working in the fields during a drought when he caused a spring to gush forth water in sufficient volume to supply the entire city. The hermitage was built in 1528 on the orders of Empress Isabella of Portugal, wife of Charles V, to commemorate the recovery of her son, the future King Philip II, from an illness cured by the miraculous water. The current hermitage building is the result of renovations in 1725, and it remains the destination of a pilgrimage celebrated on 15 May, the saint´s feast day. In Castillo´s composition, the hermitage is marginalised, situated on the painting´s far right edge and in the background. It sits atop a hill with a winding path followed by a multitude of pilgrims, tiny figures sketched here with light touches of grey paint. In the foreground, along the banks of the Manzanares River, which can be seen on the viewer´s left, various groups of people are gathered. On the far side of the river a landscape opens up, revealing the Toledo Bridge in the background enveloped in the reddish light of the setting sun, which becomes a bluish hue in the sky on the right side of the painting. The majority of the figures represented here are commoners, dressed in the picturesque style of majos (working-class natives of Madrid). Among them, however, are various courtiers dressed in the French style, with frockcoats and tricorn hats, while in the distance others travel in their coaches. On the left, several children clamber up a tree, and on the right, a group of adolescents enjoy their repast. The image may be viewed as an allegory of the Ages of Man, the progression continues with the majo and maja in the centre, engaged in coquetry to the accompaniment of the music played by the men behind them, a nuptial motif that frequently was used to represent the age of maturity. Old age, finally, may be symbolised by the smoke rising behind the couple. The circular movement of the pilgrims in the centre, following the rider whose back is turned toward the viewer and who is setting off for the hermitage, may likewise be taken as an evocation of the course of a lifetime. Certain motifs derived from Christian iconography are also evident, such as the trunk of a dead tree on the left -a symbol of death- placed in opposition to the green trees on the right that mark the beginning of the path up to the hermitage. In this light, the entire pilgrimage scene, though presented ostensibly as the image of a popular festival, communicates the idea of the way to salvation. Neoclassical compositional devices such as the marked symmetry, the open spaces between groups of figures and their restrained attitudes, as well as various of their gazes directed at the viewer, all contribute to the allegorical character of this pilgrimage. The idealisation of the landscape and the light -as in Castillo´s other works- endows the scene with a sentimental and nostalgic air that is characteristic of Neoclassicism. Three years later, Francisco de Goya produced a very different version of the same subject in his famous sketch The meadow of San Isidro, in which he presents an image of contemporary society in a highly realistic manner and in a notably critical light before a wide panorama of Madrid.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, p.186-187, nº53

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Inventory number
P007723
Author
Castillo, José del
Title
The Meadow of San Isidro
Date
1785
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 49 cm.; Width: 99.5 cm.
Provenance
Nonrecourse debt of Adrián Angel Viudes, 1998.

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Goya y la pintura española del siglo XVIII: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2000, pp. 132.

Confederación española de Cajas de Ahorro, Siglo y medio de ahorro en España, Conf. española Cajas de Ahorro, Madrid, 2003.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 186-187, nº53.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 370.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 49 n.208.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., Azúa, F. de, La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado - Obra Social ''La Caixa'', Barcelona, 2014, pp. 171.

Prado captive beauty: treasures from the Prado Museum, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2015, pp. n.83.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2400.
Nº de INVENTARIO: 2400 / Autor: José del Castillo / técnica: Oleo sobre lienzo / titulo: "Boceto para un tapiz" - "La pradera de S. Isidro" / tipo de obra: Pintura / Medidas: 99,5 x 49 cm. / Nº de Catálogo: P-7723 / Observaciones:

Exhibitions +

Goya y la corte ilustrada
Bilbao
14.02.2018 - 28.05.2018

Goya y la corte ilustrada
Zaragoza
27.09.2017 - 21.01.2018

Captive Beauty. Treasures from The Prado Museum
Tokio
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
Barcelona
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
Madrid
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Siglo y medio de ahorro en España
Madrid
17.09.2003 - 31.10.2003

Location +

Room 094 (On Display)

Expuesto

Displayed objects +

Guitar: Cordófono de cuerda pulsada que toca el músico en el centro de la composición. La caja del instrumento es alargada y el mástil oscuro, como es típico de las guitarras del siglo XVIII. No se observa el número de cuerdas ni el clavijero, que está tapado por una figura masculina, de espaldas. Las guitarras barrocas tenían cinco órdenes dobles de cuerdas, que hacia 1760 se aumentaron hasta seis. Ambos tipos convivieron hasta fines del siglo XVIII. Hacia 1800 aparecen las guitarras con seis cuerdas sencillas, como tienen en la actualidad. La guitarra barroca, instrumento de enorme difusión en todos los ámbitos musicales en toda Europa e Hispanoamérica, tuvo un repertorio específico como instrumento solista, además de formar parte de los conjuntos de bajo continuo propios de la música de la época (Proyecto Iconografía Musical, U.C.M.).

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Carriages

Update date: 25-07-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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