This exhibition focuses on the artistic and cultural significance of the decoration and ornamentation of the building throughout this period of more than forty years. It furthermore stresses some of the architecturally most important parts not normally accessible to visitors, such as the Basilica choir, the Sacristy of Copes and the Evangelists’ Courtyard.
The show, designed as a special tour of different parts of the building, draws attention to the monument’s powerful architecture while explaining and further enriching it through works of art, many of which – such as the reliquaries, books and prints, and sacred ornaments – are not on public display owing to their special conservation requirements. It provides a unique opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of the Escorial complex.
Philip II and Flemish Painting
Paraphrasing an idea of Ambrosio de Morales, royal advisor to Philip II, we might say that the king intended El Escorial to be a veritable Parnassus. The finest artists of the period were involved in decorating it. The next room focuses on the main Flemish painters whose works adorned the building’s walls: Bosch, Joachim Patinir, Antonis Mor and Michiel de Coxcie, some of whose finest paintings – such as Mor’s Portrait of Philip II and Bosch’s Christ Crowned with Thorns and Christ on the Way to Calvary – can be admired here.
The magnificent Hall of Battles with frescoes depicting the battle of Higueruela, the wars of Flanders and the battle of Terceira leads to the grand choir of the Basilica.