RUTILIO GACI (c.1570-1634)

Two Portraits of Philip IV When He Was Prince
Rosario Coppel, 2019

This new publication brings to light a small alabaster bust portrait of Philip IV when he was Prince, executed by Rutilio Gaci (c. 1570-1634).

This Italian sculptor lived in Madrid for large part of his life, from 1587 to 1634, and was active at the Spanish court, first as secretary to Pietro de' Medici, then working closely with the Tuscan ambassadors and, finally as Acroy, or Gentleman Companion, to Philip IV.

Rutilio Gaci was not merely a courtesan, however. He was an artist who started to learn his craft at the Accademia Fiorentina del Disegno at the age of 13, capable of executing original works of great perfection and beauty, as demonstrated by his sole surviving piece from this early period, some tiny wax reliefs that were identified by Andrea Daninos in 2008. 

Gaci earned a reputation in Spain as a skilful coloured wax portrait artist, as is borne out by literary sources of the time, whose successful and highly-admired small equestrian figure led to his being commissioned to design the models for the monumental statue of Philip III that was going to be executed in Florence by Pietro Tacca. He also showed his abilities producing a series of medals using a technique that demonstrated his knowledge of one of the most highly-prized skills of his day, lost-wax casting. Years later he would amaze the public with his designs for the City of Madrid's public fountains, standing in for the architect Juan Gómez de Mora, executing creations inspired by Florentine works that were new to the city, incorporating mythological statues imported from Italy by his compatriot, the merchant Ludovico Turchi.