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1675 - 1700. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

This canvas by a late 17th-century painter is part of a group of four works, all at the Museo del Prado (P191, P3196, P3197 and P3198), that express the idea of the Elements through motives drawn from classical mythology. According to R. López Torrijos (1985), Water is embodied here by Ocean’s sister and wife, Thetis, who was queen of the seas. A crown and scepter underline her royal character, and she is accompanied by a dolphin and an enormous conch shell, as well as small seashells and snails that allude to the oceanic realm, and thus, to water. López Torrijos also points out that in 17th -century Spain, Palomino confused Neptune with Ocean, thereby making Thetis Neptune’s wife. This further emphasizes Thetis’s value as an allegory of Water. Painted by the same artist as Earth (P3196) and with the same character, this work is also very close to those of Claudio Coello.

This important series has never received critical attention, yet it is especially interesting as an example of the artistic situation in circles close to the Madrid court during the final years of the 17th century. They reflect much of Carreño’s approach through Claudio Coello and Ruiz de la Iglesia, with clear but already distant echoes of Venetian and Flemish painting, and even knowledge of Luca Giordano, whose works are known to have been at the Madrid court since at least the late sixteen-fifties. These four works cannot be confidently attributed to any known artist and there are even some differences among them. The Air is attributed to Giordano, while the other three are always listed as anonymous, without mention of their school or possible circle.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo, Madrid, Ministerio de Cultura. Banco Herrero, 1986, p.350

Technical data

Related artworks

Oil on canvas, 1675 - 1700
Oil on canvas, 1675 - 1700
Oil on canvas, 1675 - 1700
Inventory number
1675 - 1700
Height: 245 cm; Width: 105.5 cm
Serie Alegorías de los Cuatro Elementos
Royal Collection (colección Felipe V, Quinta del duque del Arco, El Pardo-Madrid, cuarta pieza sala de invierno, 1745, [no. 66]; Quinta del duque del Arco, pieza cuarta, 1794, no. 84)

Bibliography +

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

López Torrijos, Rosa, La mitología en la pintura española del siglo XVII, II, Editorial de la Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1982, pp. 1059.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 814.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo, Ministerio de Cultura. Banco Herrero, Madrid, 1986, pp. 350.

Magariños, A., Las Raices de Todas las Cosas : Exposicion con Motivo del Di, Ministerio de Obras Publicas, Madrid, 1989, pp. 14.

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

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio. Inventarios Reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2004, pp. 493.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1164.
Anónimo./ 1164. Representación simbólica del agua./ Alto 2 pies, 8 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 8 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1164.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 614.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 3197.

Inv. Felipe V, Quinta duque del Arco, 1745. Núm. [66].
Quarta Pieza Sala de Ynvierno [...] [63-66] Quatro quadros de tres varas de largo por varay tercia de ancho de los quatro elementos sus marcos dorados=

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Quinta duque del Arco, 1794. Núm. 84.
Pieza quarta [...] [4778] 84 / Otro [quadro] de tres varas de alto y tercia de ancho: representa el Elemento del agua y vale ... 200

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in yellow. Front, lower left corner

1,20 x 2.55
Inscribed. Stretcher

1164 (invertido)
Inscribed. Stretcher

Inscribed in pen and ink. Frame, back, right side bar

Inscribed with ballpoint. Stretcher

Wood nameplate. Frame, front, lower bar

M.N.PRADO / M00474
Scrap of paper. Frame, back, lower bar

Numo. 1164 / El Elemento del Agua
Handwritten label in black ink. Stretcher

Retirado del instituto de / Badajoz en marzo de 1968
Handwritten label in black ink. Stretcher, central crossbeam

M.N. PRADO 03197
On metallic tablet. Stretcher

Miscelanea elegidos
Inscribed in pen and ink. Frame, back, left side bar

Nº 3197
Inscribed in pen and ink. Stretcher

Exhibitions +

Exposición sobre el Medio Ambiente
06.06.1989 - 30.06.1989

Location +

Madrid - Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales (Deposit)

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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