Drawing of an Architectural Detail of a Vault Attributed to Claudio Coello


Claudio Coello (1642–1693) was one of the last great painters of the baroque school of Madrid in the 17th century, a period coinciding with the reign of King Charles II of Spain. The son of a Portuguese sculptor, Coello was apprenticed to Francisco Rizi, who was partly responsible for introducing more Italian exuberance into Spanish art. Coello painted many frescoes in the 1670s and developed his lavish theatrical sense and penchant for trompe l’oeil architecture. He contributed to the designs for the triumphal arches used to celebrate the entry into Madrid of Marie Louise of Orléans upon her marriage to King Charles in 1679. The king noticed Coello’s work, which led to his being appointed as court painter. Most of Coello’s frescoes have not survived, and he is now known primarily for his religious works and portraits. The drawing presented here, attributed to Coello, shows the influence of quadratura (illusionistic drawing or painting that appears to extend real architecture into imaginary space), typical of the Bolognese School. Angelo Michele Colonna and Agostino Mitelli introduced this style to Spain in 1658 when they were commissioned by Velázquez to decorate the palace of the Alcazar in Madrid. Its application is always di sotto in su, a perspective technique meaning “seen from below,” and it usually adorns the walls and ceilings of palaces and churches. It is known that Coello had learned this technique and applied it both in Madrid and in Zaragoza, where in the years 1683−84 he decorated the Manteria, the church of the Augustinian brotherhood of Saint Thomas of Villanova.

Last updated: July 8, 2015