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Charles II in armour
Carreño de Miranda, Juan
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Carreño de Miranda, Juan

Avilés, Asturias (Spain), 1614 - Madrid (Spain), 1685

Carreño de Miranda, Juan See author's file

Charles II in armour

1681. Oil on canvas.
Room 019

Charles II was born in 1661, the only son of Philip IV and his second wife (and niece), Mariana of Austria, to survive to adulthood. Charles succeeded his father in 1665 and died without an heir in 1700 at the age of 39, thus bringing to an end the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. According to the date on this portrait, the king would have been 20 years old at the time. His long hair is worn in a similar style to his earlier portraits, although here, for the first time, he is depicted in military dress with armour and riding boots, a sword, sceptre and a red sash. This iconographic formula was already well established in the Habsburg portrait tradition: the helmet and gauntlet resting on the table recall Titian´s Philip II in armour (P411) 1551. Charles II´s armour -decorated with the alternating motifs of the X-shaped Cross of Burgundy and a radiant sun- was symbolically loaded, for it was originally created for his ancestor Philip II and worn during the Battle of Saint-Quentin in 1557, in which Spain was victorious against the French. Known as the labor de aspas armour (referring to the damascene crosses, or aspas), it was made by the German armourer Wolfgang Grosschedel (1517–62) for Philip II when he was still the crown prince and is now housed in the Royal Armoury in Madrid. Thus, this portrait of Charles II makes an explicit iconographic connection to the glorious monarch Philip II. Behind the king is one of the tables supported by bronze lions that decorated the Hall of Mirrors in the Alcázar in Madrid. In the background, beyond a marble balustrade, we can see two warships firing their cannons, adding to the martial quality of the portrait and inferring the ongoing wars with France.The closest precedent to this painting in terms of date and style is the portrait by Velázquez and his workshop Philip IV in armour, a lion at his feet c.1652 (P1219). The paintings have almost the same dimensions and were both displayed in a reception hall in the royal residence at El Escorial. Juan Carreño de Miranda was charged with the redecoration of this hall in 1681, at one end of which hung Velázquez´s portrait of Philip IV and its pendant, a portrait of Mariana of Austria (P1191). At the other end was this portrait by Carreño of Philip´s son Charles, together with a portrait of Charles´s wife, Marie Louise of Orléans, that is now lost.It has been supposed that this painting is a repetition of the portrait that Carreño painted in 1679 to mark the negotiations of the king´s marriage to Marie Louise, the niece of Louis XIV. In letters to his mother written in May and June of that year, the young Charles expressed his frustration with the painter´s dilatoriness. However, he must have been satisfied with the end result, for the painting was sent to his betrothed in Paris in July 1679 in the care of the Duke of Pastrana, and was recorded as the jewel painted by Carreño.An X-ray analysis of Charles II in armour at the Prado revealed that, beneath the visible paint, there is another portrait that corresponds quite closely to the prototype created by Carreño in 1671 when the king was ten years old, a painting now in the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias (Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias), Oviedo. As a result of this portrait, Carreño was appointed pintor de camára (court painter). He repeated this image of the king several times with minimal alterations. In those portraits, Charles appears with his long hair worn loose, dressed in black, sporting the badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece and standing in the Hall of Mirrors. Carreño probably used what had become an obsolete portrait of the child king to paint on top of it a new portrait that updated his image as an adult, showing his taller stature. He then added a strip of canvas to the top in order to augment the height of the painting, and he trimmed the sides slightly so that it would correspond to the format of the painting of Philip IV.It was surely no small task to paint Charles, who was weak, sickly and physically rather unappealing. Carreño painted him with great sensitivity and competence, blending a high degree of idealisation with the need to not completely conceal the monarch´s features, which reflected the Habsburg dynasty´s physical decline after generations of inbreeding. An intelligent and perceptive heir to the tradition of Velázquez, Carreño was renowned for the degree to which his portraits accurately represented his sitters (Finaldi, G.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 88).


Technical data

Inventory number
Carreño de Miranda, Juan
Charles II in armour
Height: 232 cm; Width: 125.5 cm
Royal Collection (transferred from the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in 1813 from where it enters the Prado Museum)

Bibliography +

Catálogo del Museo del Greco de Toledo, José Blass y Cía, Madrid, 1912, pp. nº 21.

Berjano Escobar, Daniel, El pintor D. Juan Carreño de Miranda (1614-1685). Su vida y obra., Mateu Artes Gráficas, 1924, pp. 152.

Tormo, Elías, Toledo. Los Museos, II, Madrid, 1930, pp. 18.

Marzolf, Rosemary, The Life and Work of Juan Carreño de Miranda 1614-1685, Universidad de Michigan, 1961, pp. 81-82, 161-162.

Gómez-Moreno, María Elena, Catálogo de las pinturas del Museo y Casa del Greco en Toled..., Fundaciones Vega-Inclán, Madrid, 1968, pp. nº 47 / lám. LIV.

Camón Aznar, José, Le Portrait Espagnol du XIV au XIX Siécle, Ministere de la Culture, Bruselas, 1970, pp. nº24.

Espinós, A.; Orihuela, M. y Royo Villanova, M. [et al.], ''El Prado disperso''. Cuadros depositados en Toledo y Ávila. Toledo. Museo de Santa Cruz, Boletín del Museo del Prado, V, 1984, pp. 71.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Juan Carreño de Miranda: 1614-1685, Ayuntamiento. Ministerio de Cultura, Avilés, 1985, pp. 74-75, 95.

Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo, Ministerio de Cultura; Banco Herrero, Madrid, 1986, pp. 232-233, nº54.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Urrea, Jesús, La Pittura Madrilena del Secolo XVII, Edizioni Carte Segrete, Roma, 1991, pp. 114, nº30.

El Oro y la Plata de las Indias en la Época de los Austrias, Fundacion Ico, Madrid, 1999.

Rodríguez G. de Ceballos, A., Retrato de estado y propaganda política: Carlos II, Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, XII, 2000, pp. 93-109.

Bassegoda i Hugas, Bonaventura, El Escorial como museo. La decoración pictórica mueble en el Monasterio de El Escorial desde Diego Velázquez hasta Frédéric Quilliet, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 2002, pp. 231.

Lopez de Prado Nistal, Covadonga, Maria Luisa de Orleans, Una Reina Efimera, Xunta de Galicia, Coruña, 2003, pp. 81.

Finaldi, G., Retrato de Carlos II en armadura (1681). En: Ruiz Gómez, L.: El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2006, pp. 106, n. 28.

López Vizcaíno, Pilar, Juan Carreño de Miranda: vida y obra, Ángel Mario Carreño, Oviedo, 2007, pp. 310.

The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain, Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior; Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2009, pp. 244-245.

El arte del poder. La Real Armería y el retrato de corte, Museo Nacional del Prado, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2010, pp. 224-227.

Pascual Chenel, Álvaro, El retrato de Estado durante el reinado de Carlos II. Imagen y propaganda, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2010, pp. 385-387, cat.PC26.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 88-89 nº5.

En nombre de la paz. La Guerra de Sucesión española y los Tratados de Madrid, Utrech, Rastatt y Baden 1713-1715, Fundación Carlos Amberes, Madrid, 2013, pp. 262 n.17.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Juan Carreño y la decadencia de la pintura española, Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 291-313 [299].

Martínez Leiva, Gloria, 'El exilio de la reina viuda Mariana de Neoburgo y la configuración de un nuevo retrato áulico' En: Carlos II y el arte de su tiempo, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2014, pp. 219-256 [223].

Bake-ituna / Tratado de Paz /Traité de Paix / Peace Treaty, Fundación Donostia/San Sebastián, San Sebastián, 2016, pp. B.1.2, 165.

García Cueto, David, Claudio Coello: pintor, 1642-1693, Arco Libros - La Muralla, Madrid, 2016, pp. 180-181 f.102.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: The Golden Age in the Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokio, 2018, pp. n.22.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 2935.
2935. Retrato de cuerpo entero de Carlos 2º con armadura y el bastón de mando en la mano derecha. Carreño. Alto 8 pies, 3 pulg; ancho 4 pies, 5 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 643.

Inscriptions +

Signed and dated. Front, lower area

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Velázquez and the Golden Age
16.11.2018 - 03.03.2019

Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: the Golden Age in the Museo del Prado
13.06.2018 - 14.10.2018

Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: the Golden Age in the Museo del Prado
24.02.2018 - 27.05.2018

Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: the Golden Age in the Museo del Prado
20.02.2018 - 27.05.2018

Tratado de Paz
San Sebastián
17.06.2016 - 02.10.2016

En nombre de la paz. La Guerra de Sucesión española y los tratados de Madrid, Utrech, Rastatt y Baden (1713-1715)
20.12.2013 - 23.02.2014

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

The Art of Power. The Royal Armoury and court portraiture
09.03.2010 - 23.05.2010

The Art of Power. Royal Armor & Portraits from Imperial Spain
Washington DC
28.06.2009 - 29.11.2009

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
12.06.2007 - 02.09.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
05.03.2007 - 20.05.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
12.12.2006 - 18.02.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
19.09.2006 - 26.11.2006

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
22.06.2006 - 21.08.2006

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
Santiago de Compostela
09.03.2006 - 14.05.2006

La condición humana. Imagen del hombre en el arte
09.05.2004 - 24.09.2004

María Luisa de Orleans. Una reina efímera
La Coruña
12.11.2003 - 31.01.2004

El oro y la plata de las Indias en la economía de los Austrias
03.03.1999 - 10.05.1999

Pintura madrileña del Siglo XVII
10.12.1991 - 31.01.1992

Location +

Room 019 (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Armor: Llamada "de la labor de aspas", de 1551. El peto ostenta la imagen de la Inmaculada Concepción y en el espaldar la de Santa Bárbara. Destaca en sus bandas decorativas las cruces de Borgoña flanqueadas por eslabones del Toisón de Oro. Marca de la localidad Landshut, Wolfgang (Alemania) y punzón en peto. La decoración alude al poder y prestigio de la Casa de Austria. Realizada para Felipe II la usa en San Quintín, y las sillas en su entrada en Lisboa. Carlos II se representa con ella para celebrar la Paz de Nimega, primer retrato de Carreño enviado a París. La armadura se conserva en Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, Real Armería nº A.263 (Soler del Campo, A.; García-Frías Checa, C. en: El arte del poder. La Real Armería y el retrato de corte, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2010, pp. 166 y 224-227).

Baton, Command

Update date: 26-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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