But for a later generation of artists the opportunity to shine came with the rebuilding of the Royal Palace in Madrid after fire destroyed the existing palace in 1734. As with many grand buildings designed in the eighteenth century, its architecture required an extensive series of frescoes. Italy boasted the finest specialist decorative painters and Corrado Giaquinto, who trained in Naples but made his name in Rome, was invited to Madrid in 1753 to paint ceilings of the new palace.
Giaquinto possessed a fluid and virtuoso technique and was a master of illusionistic effects. He was also a genius at strikingly beautiful colour combinations which make his paintings seem illuminated from within. Giaquinto augmented the popular Rococo style with a Neapolitan intensity perfectly suited to the flamboyant architecture of the new palace and taste of those at court. He created fully worked and large canvases of the designs he intended for the frescoes and the Prado have generously included three of these impressive works in this exhibition.