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The Prince of Asturias, the future Charles IV
Mengs, Anton Raphael
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Mengs, Anton Raphael

Aussig (Czech Republic), 1728 - Rome (Italy), 1779

Mengs, Anton Raphael See author's file

The Prince of Asturias, the future Charles IV

Ca. 1765. Oil on canvas.
Room 022

This portrait of Charles IV as the Prince of Asturias has as its pendant a portrait of his wife, María Luisa of Parma, also in the Museo del Prado (P2189). Anton Raphael Mengs had come to Spain in 1761 at the invitation of Charles III in order to serve as pintor de camára, or court painter, the most prestigious appointment for an artist in the service of the king. He probably produced this canvas and its companion in 1765 as wedding portraits, for it was in that year that the prince and princess were married. The painter had found fame in Rome as a portraitist and, with the support of German archaeologist and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68), was hailed as a major figure in the neoclassical movement. In Spain, Mengs´s presence was crucial to the consolidation of Madrid´s Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando) -an institution that produced an influential group of Spanish artists in the last third of the eighteenth century- and he was responsible for coordinating the decoration of the new Royal Palace in Madrid and the royal country houses. He also executed portraits of Spanish aristocrats. His modern approach to portraiture, as well as his theoretical writings, inspired young artists and propelled the renovation of the arts in Spain, changes that were eventually realised by major figures such as Francisco Bayeu, Mariano Salvador Maella and, above all, Francisco de Goya. His portraits of the royal family represent a degree of technical skill, elegant naturalism and emblematic perfection that had not been seen since the works of Diego Velázquez. Mengs´s portraits were intended to strengthen and consolidate the image of the new Bourbon dynasty, established in Spain in 1700 and confirmed following the defeat of their Habsburg rivals in 1714 in the War of the Spanish Succession -a turn of events that even at this late date was a source of resentment among certain political factions and provinces. These modern representations of the royal family were obliged to compete with Velázquez´s portraits, which still decorated some of the most significant rooms in the new palace. Mengs´s portraits revived typologies that, in popular imagination and in the memory of the court and foreign ambassadors, were naturally associated with historical representations of the old Spanish Habsburg dynasty. The new Prince of Asturias and future King Charles IV, who succeeded his father in 1788, is represented here as a hunter in the woods of El Pardo, crossed by the Manzanares River -the same locale in which the Habsburg princes had traditionally been portrayed, similarly attired for the chase. The 17-year-old prince stands elegantly, using his shotgun as a support. He wears a grey coat, black leather riding boots and the insignias of his superior status: on his breast is the badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece, as well as those of the military orders of the Holy Spirit (which was due to the prince as a member of the House of Bourbon) and Saint Januarius -the order founded by his father in 1738 as King of Naples and the Two Sicilies to celebrate his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony. Hunting on horseback, once the sole preserve of the monarchy, was no longer restricted to the royals in the eighteenth century. However, emblems of royal power persisted in iconographic representations of the hunt, which included the deer, in whose pursuit the prince´s valour and firmness would be tested, or the dog that, in images of kings and princes, symbolised the loyalty of their subjects. Charles IV was born in 1748 in Portici, Naples, and could therefore be considered a foreigner under Spanish law. As such, his right to the throne could theoretically have been challenged, yet here he is presented as the natural heir to the Crown and, together with his wife, the guarantors of the dynasty´s preservation in the future (Mena, M.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 92).

Technical data

Inventory number
Mengs, Anton Raphael
The Prince of Asturias, the future Charles IV
Ca. 1765
Height: 152.5 cm; Width: 111 cm
Royal Collection (New Royal Palace, Madrid, "trascuartos de la Reina", 1794, [s. n.]).

Bibliography +

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, Texto fotocopiado, Madrid, 1834, pp. 33.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Antonio Rafael Mengs (1728-1779): noticia de su vida y de sus obras con el catálogo de la exposición celebrada en mayo de 1929, Madrid, 1929, pp. 20.

Mayoral y Herrero, José, El prognatismo inferior en los Borbones de España. Tesis Doctoral, Odontología Clínica, Madrid, 1933, pp. lám.35.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier; Pita Andrade, José Manuel, Los retratos de los Reyes de España, Omega, Barcelona, 1948, pp. lám.157.

Honisch, Dieter, Anton Raphael Mengs Und Die Bildform des Fruhklassizismus, Aurel Bongers, Recklinghausen, 1965, pp. 102.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Council of Europe. Art Exhibition14th1972London), The age of neo-classicism, The Art Council of Great Britain, London, 1972.

Permanencia de la memoria: cartones para tapiz y dibujos de, Gobierno de Aragón, Departamento de Educación y Cultura, Zaragoza, 1977, pp. 78.

Águeda Villar, Mercedes, Antonio Rafael Mengs: 1728-1779, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1980, pp. 34, nº9.

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego; Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Historia de la pintura española: escuela madrileña del segundo tercio del siglo XVII, Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1983, pp. 48.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Age of Gold, Age of Iron. Renaissance Spain and Symbols of Monarchy, University Press of America, Lanham. Nueva York, 1985, pp. lám.1184.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 413.

Iglesias, María del Carmen, Carlos III y la ilustración: 1788-1988, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1988, pp. 440.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. 963.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 474.

Herrero Carretero, Concha, Tapices y cartones de Goya, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1996, pp. 100.

Sancho, José Luis, Mengs at the Palacio Real. Madrid, The Burlington Magazine, 139, 1997, pp. 524/ lám.12.

Roettgen, Steffi, Anton Raphael Mengs, 1728-1779, Hirmer Verlag, Munchen, 1999, pp. 198.

Mehr Licht. Europa Um 1770. Die Bildende Kunst Der Aufklarun, Klinkhardt & Biermann, Frankfurt, 1999.

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, 2002.

Roettgen, Steffi, Anton Raphael Mengs, 1728-1779, Hirmer Verlag, Munchen, 2003, pp. 198, nº 9.

Enciclopedia del Museo del Prado, II, T.F. Editores: Fundación Amigos, Madrid, 2006, pp. 637.

Rose-de Viejo, Isadora, Ausencias/Presencias: signos de presencia en los retratos de Goya, Anales de historia del arte, Vol. Extra, 2008, pp. 355-364 [360].

Carlos IV. Mecenas y coleccionista, Patrimonio Nacional, S.E., 2009, pp. 79, 146-147.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, pp. 174-177.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 92-93, nº7.

Mena, Manuela B., 'La caza. Reyes cazadores.' En:, Mena Marques,Manuela B. Goya en Madrid : cartones para tapices 1775-1794, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 46-57 [56 f.1.11].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1428.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 2188.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2188.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 963.
Mengs. / 963. Carlos 4º / Retrato mientras era principe, descansando de la caza. / Alto 5 pies, 5 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 3 pies, 11 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 963.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s. n..
Trasquartos de la Rnª nra. Señora [...] [348] / Quatro Quadros de siete quartas de alto: retrato del Sr. Rey Dn Carlos Tercero, el de la Reina Dª Maria Amalia, y los de los Reyes nuestros Señores siendo Principes, á diez mil reales cada uno. Mengs ... 40.000

Exhibitions +

Austrias y Borbones. Retratos de Reyes de España y de Príncipes y Princesas de Asturias
14.10.2019 - 15.12.2019

Charles III in hunting Dress by Francisco de Goya. Connections and differences
19.12.2016 - 12.06.2017

Goya in Madrid
28.11.2014 - 03.05.2015

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

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

Carlos IV, mecenas y coleccionista
22.04.2009 - 19.07.2009

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado - Tokio
05.03.2002 - 23.06.2002

Mehr Licht. Europe around 1770. Art and the enlightenment
22.08.1999 - 09.01.2000

Carlos III y la Ilustración
27.02.1989 - 16.04.1989

Carlos III y la Ilustración
09.11.1988 - 22.01.1989

Location +

Room 022 (On Display)


Displayed objects +


Insignia of the Royal Order of Saint Genaro

Order of the Holy Ghost

Golden Fleece


Update date: 08-12-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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