Theatrical Design


Francisco Rizi was a painter of Italian descent who trained in the workshop of Vicente Carducho. In 1637 he began to work for King Philip IV of Spain, who appointed him the royal painter in 1656. His most productive period coincided with the reign of Philip, for whom he worked both on decorations of a mythological character for the Alcázar de Toledo and on the design and construction of theater sets from 1657 on. This drawing probably was made for a theatrical presentation at the Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid. It is a finely done work, clearly in the Baroque style, with emphasis on color and decoration. The composition is of simple materials embellished with tempera paints to portray marble, decorated with reliefs, cartouches, and shields that are iconographic symbols in which mythology and the glorification of monarchs are combined. Apollo, as the personification of the sun and patron of muses, is carried in a chariot in the upper cartouche. Allegories of spring and fall are found in the lateral niches. In the background, the figure of Pan appears with a musical instrument, alluding to the arts. Over the pediment of the second arch is the royal seal. The undulating structures reinforced by columns create dynamism in the composition and are arranged at various angles to create an illusory perspective. In the work, Rizi demonstrates his mastery as a painter and stage designer. It is also possible that this painting is related to one of the triumphal royal entrances, which were already well-established at court. Rizi was fundamentally a painter of religious themes. His work is linked to the cathedral at Toledo and to the predominant churches associated with the court, such as Descalzas Reales, San Antonio de los Portugueses, and Colegio Imperial de Madrid. He is considered the first great Baroque painter of the Madrid school. He contributed to the renewal of Spanish painting by combining the influences of the school of Rubens with the color of the Venetian school.

Last updated: March 15, 2013