NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Spain and Italian art in the 18th century

Corrado Giaquinto
Italian 1703–1766, worked in Spain 1753–62
Allegory of Justice and Peace (Allegoria della Giustizia e della Pace) c.1753–54
oil on canvas
216.0 x 325.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00104)
Spanish Royal Collection
Italy was still a major artistic centre in the eighteenth century and the Spanish court continued to look to it for its leading artists. From 1692 to 1702 the Neapolitan, Luca Giordano, worked in Spain where he painted frescoes in the Buen Retiro Palace and the Escorial monastery. Many Italian artists found a home in Madrid, including Jacopo Amigoni.

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.