Christ on the way to Calvary by Corrado Giaquinto

Christ on the way to Calvary by Corrado Giaquinto
Christ on the way to Calvary by Corrado Giaquinto

The rococo style arose in France, unlike other previous styles, such as Baroque or Renaissance art of clear Italian origin. However, the rococo was also accepted by various painters from the transalpine country, although of course adapting their aesthetic assumptions to the long Italian pictorial tradition. And in this sense we can consider Corrado Giaquinto (1703 – 1766) as the great representative of Roman Rococo art.


Christ on the way to Calvary by Giaquinto

Although he was originally from the southern region of Apulia, and his beginnings were also in the city of Naples, without a doubt it was in Rome where he exploited all his artistic mastery. There he spent many years perfecting his art, working with different architects in the decoration of temples and also as a member of the Academia de San Lucas where, among other tasks, he supervised the work and progress of various Spanish painters pensioners in Rome.

This is how he established contact with Spanish patrons and that is how he received a first commission fromKing Ferdinand VI. So in the year 1753 he moved toMadridto definitely work at court. In fact, he rose to the rank of court painter, as well as being named director general of theRoyal Academy of Fine Artsand also served asartistic direction at the Royal Tapestry Factory.

That is to say, he became an artist of the highest confidence of the king, who did not hesitate to commission works from him for all his great residences from the Palacio Real or the Sitio de Aranjuez, to Palacio del Buen Retiro.

For the latter he paintedGiaquintothis canvas ofChrist on the way to Calvary. Actually, this oil is part of a series of eight pieces made for the oratory of Fernando VI. And they remained in the Palace until 1808, although they were later dismantled and transferred to the Prado Museum in Madrid, which they are still treasured today.

Of all the fabrics, this is perhaps the most complex and ornate composition. He distinguishes Jesus in the center laboriously carrying his cross and wearing a color of tunic that attracts attention. Around him, other characters harass him with almost impossible postures and foreshortenings. While in the background, you can see the Roman soldiers and also two crosses already raised for the two thieves who, according to the Gospels, accompanied Christ in his Crucifixion.

The work clearly demonstrates the style ofGiaquinto, a painter with a very free and agile hand, capable of giving his works an almost sketchy image. A style that greatly influenced other Spanish painters of the time and later. And it is that the Italian remained in the country until 1762. That year he asked the new monarchCarlos IIIpermission to return to Italy to rest for a few months,but the reality is that he never returned to Spain and died the following year in Naples.

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