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Apotheosis of the Spanish (?) Monarchy (?)
Corrado Giaquinto
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This preparatory sketch for a ceiling shows a sky with classical figures arranged on clouds. At the top is Jupiter – the chief deity – holding a crown and accompanied by an eagle clutching a thunderbolt (his attributes). Beside him is Juno, his wife. Below them to the left are Venus and Cupid, and Bacchus reclining. To their right, Minerva presents a woman holding a spear to Jupiter: she may be a personification of Spain. Lower and to the centre, Hercules is defeating the multi-headed water monster Hydra with his club. His prominent position is due to his association with the Spanish monarchy – one of Hercules’s labours was to place columns in Gibraltar, marking the limit of what would later become the Spanish Empire.

The ceiling painting is now in the Palazzo Rondinini-Sanseverino, Rome, but it was originally in the Palazzo Santa Croce in Palermo. The palace belonged to the Celesti family: they may have commissioned this allegory of the Spanish monarchy since the Spanish Bourbon king Charles III, ruler of the Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples, was crowned in Palermo.

Key facts
Artist Corrado Giaquinto
Artist dates 1703 - 1766
Full title Apotheosis of the Spanish (?) Monarchy (?)
Date made about 1751
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 96.5 x 43.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1954
Inventory number NG6229
Location in Gallery Not on display
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