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Corrado Giaquinto, 'Apotheosis of the Spanish (?) Monarchy (?)', about 1751

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

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.

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