Inventory number
Leoni, Leone; Leoni, Pompeo
Carlos V and the Fury
251 cm x 143 cm x 130 cm - 825 kg
On display
Colección Real (Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, jardín de la ermita de San Pablo, 1701, nº 386).

Carlos V is shown standing, dressed Roman-style, with a breastplate, epaulières, and palettes in the shape of lions’ heads. He wears sandals. His right hand rests lightly on a lance and his left on the handle of his sword, whose hilt takes the form of an eagle’s head. The decoration is completed by a medallion with the figure of Mars in relief, the Golden Fleece and a small figure of Triton under the lance rest.

The Emperor stands over a nude figure representing Fury, which takes the form of a mature man in chains with an angry and hateful expression. Fury holds a lit torch in his right hand. The group rests on a base covered with arms and military trophies, crafted with a goldsmith’s attention to detail: a trident, a trumpet, a mace, a quiver and even a lictor’s fasces with its hatchet, emphasize this group’s similarity to a work from Antiquity.

This idea is related to the Renassance mentality, which associated imperial power with the Roman past in both a political and an esthetic sense. In keeping with this tendency, the artists represent the emperor nude here, as in an ancient sculpture. To this, they added the armor, which can still be removed today.

This group has clear forerunners among other Renaissance sculptures that follow the same layout. The clearest of these is Donatello’s Judith at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. In it, the heroine has the figure of Holofernes at her feet, just like the group at the Prado.

In 1549, Carlos V himself commissioned Leone Leoni to make this work. He was unable to finish it before the Emperor died, and it was finally finished in 1564 by his son, Pompeo.

This was one of eight sculptures —four of bronze and four of marble— which Carlos V commissioned in 1549. The iconographic representation of the group is the artist’s own invention. It embodies the grandeur and dignity of the Emperor by alluding to his many victories and his life as a peacemaker. The statue of Fury is directly inspired by Virgil’s description of the lineage of Augustus (Aeneid I, 259). It is signed and dated on the base by the artist’s son, Pompeo, and has an inscription around the pedestal.

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