To commemorate the fourth centenary of the birth of King Philip IV (1605-1665), the Museo del Prado has organised this exhibition on the pictorial decoration of the Buen Retiro Palace, a building erected during his reign at the instigation of his favourite, the Count-Duke of Olivares. Philip, the fourth ruler to bear this name, was referred to in writings of the age as the Planet King on account of his association with the sun, the fourth element in the hierarchy of the planets.
The Palace was decorated with an extraordinary collection of paintings that were commissioned in Madrid, Rome and Naples. In just ten years (1633-1643) some 800 works by Spanish, Italian and French artists of the stature of Velázquez, Zurbarán, Ribera, Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Lanfranco and Domenichino were acquired for this residence, many of which later became part of the Prado's holdings.
The exhibition, which is divided into five sections, evokes the concept of pictorial series with which the different rooms of the Buen Retiro Palace were decorated in the seventeenth century. Particularly notable among the spaces was the Hall of Realms, the most representative and significant room in the Buen Retiro Palace, whose decorative scheme can be viewed as an ensemble here for the first time since it was dismantled in the eighteenth century.