Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 64

POMPEO LEONI / Portrait of a Knight of the Order of Alcántara or Calatrava Identified
commissioned busts of Prince Rodolfo and Prince
Ernesto of Bohemia, nephews of Philip II who lived in
Spain from 1564 to 1571. These are the first sculptures
executed from his own models rather than those of his
father, Leone Leoni, in Milan.16
In 1566 Pompeo moved his workshop to the Carrera
de San Francisco. He completed the imperial marble
portraits, made ephemeral sculpture celebrating the
entry into Madrid of Anne of Austria (1570), and
made an (unfinished) marble pedestal with gilt bronze
angels for the urn intended to contain Saint Eugenio’s
relics in Toledo Cathedral. He was not appointed
sculptor to the King until 1570. During the 1570s
he made a series of funerary monuments in several
Spanish towns. The first was for Juana of Austria
(deceased 1573), followed by the Inquisitors General
Diego de Espinosa in the church at Martín Muñoz de
las Posadas (Segovia), and Fernando de Valdés in the
collegiate church at Salas (Asturias).
On 28 September 1556, Pompeo Leoni disembarked
with the royal retinue at Laredo. It is no secret that he
found this a difficult time. Charles V had abdicated
in favour of his son, Philip II, in whose absence Spain
was ruled by his sister Princess Juana of Austria.
The Princess was the first to contract Leoni as court
sculptor, in February 1557, with a monthly salary of
thirty ducats back-dated to his arrival in Valladolid the
previous November. In 1561, after the court’s move to
Madrid, Leoni opened a workshop there. He had spent
a year shut away by the Inquisition in a monastery, but
the only work he is known to have done before then was
as a medallist. Evidence for this are the medals he made
of the Prince’s tutor, Don Carlos Honorato Juan (1556),
the Prince himself (1557), and Diego de Lerma (1557).
Fig. 9 / Pompeo Leoni,
Philip II, ca. 1564,
polychromed silver head,
Vienna, Kunshistorisches
Fig. 10 / Pompeo Leoni,
Dña. Juana of Austria,
1574, marble, Madrid,
church of the monastery
of the Descalzas Reales.
In the following years, he finished the bronze portraits
made by his father in Milan: Charles V Restraining Fury,
the Empress Isabel, Maria of Hungary and Philip II.15 No
other work is known until 1564 (the date appearing
with his signature on the imperial portraits), when
Juana of Austria commissioned a portrait of Philip II
in polychromed silver (61.5 x 43.5 x 29 cm, Vienna,
Kunsthistorisches Museum) (fig. 9). At the same time
– as we know only from documentary evidence – she
In his new workshop, Pompeo took up the marble
portraits commissioned by Charles V from Leone Leoni
in 1549, which had been at a very preliminary stage
when they arrived in Spain. This must have represented
a kind of apprenticeship in marble for him as, like his
father, he was inexperienced with this material. It is not
possible to offer an in-depth assessment of the quality
of these works since, due to long exposure to the open
air in the Aranjuez Palace gardens, the details of the
finish have been lost. As we have seen, they were not
Pompeo’s creation but Leone’s and closely related to
the bronze portraits. Perhaps the first one Pompeo
completed was the statue of Charles V, because it is
unsigned, followed by Philip II, 1567, which bears only
Pompeo’s signature and then the Empress Isabel, also
signed only by him, in 1572.17
In these works Pompeo developed an exceptional
talent as a portraitist in stone. His most characteristic
works show he was capable of infusing life in a way
he could not do with his bronze portraits or medals,
where the effect is much more distant. His masterpiece
in marble is the large monument depicting of Juana of
Austria at Prayer (1574), in the church of the monastery
of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid. It is placed in a
small chapel on the Epistle side of the altar used by
the Princess as an oratory (fig. 10).
POMPEO LEONI / Portrait of a Knight of the Order of Alcántara or Calatrava Identified


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