Flower Pattern Armour, Desiderius Helmschmid. Embossed, engraved and gilt steel. Augsburg c. 1550. Madrid, Patrimonio Nacional, Real Armería

The third section, entitled The Royal Armoury in 17th-century Court Painting, shows the different phases in the relationship between the collection of the Royal Armoury in Madrid and the court portrait, ranging from its close links with the image of royal power to its use as a mere repository of motifs applicable to different types of painting from the second third of the 17th century onwards. During that period armour and the way it had been used by Charles V and Philip II to convey symbolic notions of power continued to be a source of inspiration for a number of court portraits (such as Philip II on Horseback by Rubens, and Charles II in Armour by Carreño de Miranda). At this period, however, we see the holdings of the Armoury being used as accessories in portraits of nobles such as the Count of Benavente by Velázquez, that of the 2nd Marquis of Santa Cruz at the Relief of Genoa by Pereda (a recently restored canvas), and the image of the Count Duke of Olivares seen in The Recapture of Bahía in Brazil by Maíno. The sitters in these compositions appear wearing armour from the Felicísimo Viaje and with the ceremonial sword of the Catholic Kings.

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