CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The art of power: royal armor and portraits from Imperial Spain

Exhibition: 28 June - 29 November 2009

From the museum website

The Royal Armory in Madrid, assembled at a time when the Spanish Crown was at the height of its international power, is the oldest and one of the finest and largest armories in the world, imbued with great historical, artistic, and symbolic significance. Armor drawn from the unsurpassed holdings of the Spanish Royal Armory is shown in this exhibition alongside portraits of rulers dressed in the same armor, painted by such masters as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Diego Velázquez, and Alonso Sánchez Coello. Several large and magnificent tapestries from the royal collection also depict the armor in use.

Together, some 75 works illustrate the use of luxurious armor in projecting an image of royal power in Imperial Spain. The exhibition includes several full suits of armor, helmets, shields, and equestrian armor—worn in battle but more often in Renaissance parades, pageants, and jousting tournaments. The works of art on view date from the reigns of the Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I of Austria (1508–1519) and Emperor Charles V (1519–1558), to those of his successors, King Philip II (1556–1598), King Philip III (1598–1621), and King Philip IV (1621–1665). This is the first time that the armor has been exhibited together with the portraits in which it is depicted.

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