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Still Life with fish, a candle, artichokes, crab and prawns
Oil on panel. 1611
Peeters, Clara
Still Life with fish, a candle, artichokes, crab and prawns
Oil on panel. 1611
Peeters, Clara

On what appears to be a wooden table or ledge we see boiled crabs and shrimp, several freshwater fish (two carp, a roach, possibly several ide, and a northern pike), a dark glass goblet, a brass candlestick with a partially burnt but flameless candle, a copper strainer with a brass skimmer and two artichokes, and a Rhenish stoneware jug. Reflected on its lid is a self-portrait of the artist with a

The Death of the Virgin (centre); The Birth of the Virgin (left); The Presentation of the Virgin (right)
Grisaille, Oil on panel. Before 1550
Coxcie, Michiel
The Death of the Virgin (centre); The Birth of the Virgin (left); The Presentation of the Virgin (right)
Grisaille, Oil on panel. Before 1550
Coxcie, Michiel

This triptych was executed for the church of Saint Gudule in Brussels. According to Carel van Mander (1604) it was subsequently sold "for a very high price to Spain". Philip II sent it to El Escorial in 1586. Coxcie spent time in Italy and his style was inspired by Roman Renaissance painting. The old woman reading in The Birth of the Virgin is based on the Persian Sibyl in Michelangelo’s Sistine C

Danaë and the Shower of Gold
Oil on canvas. 1560 - 1565
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
Danaë and the Shower of Gold
Oil on canvas. 1560 - 1565
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

The first Poesie presented to Prince Philip were Danaë (1553, The Wellington Collection) and Venus and Adonis (1554, Museo del Prado, P422), versions of other previous works, but endowed with all the prestige of the commissioning party. In turn, these works became models for numerous replicas (Danaë receiving the Golden Rain, 1560-65, Museo del Prado, P425).Danaë depicts the moment

Portrait of a Gentleman
Oil on canvas. 1600 - 1605
el Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
Portrait of a Gentleman
Oil on canvas. 1600 - 1605
el Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)

A portrait of an unidentified gentleman dressed in black with a white ruff. His expressive gaze and the loose and confident brushstrokes denote the high quality of this work, which is very similar to other portraits painted by El Greco at the beginning of the sixteenth century, like the so-called Aged Gentleman (P00806). There are various hypotheses about the identity of the sitter. Some authors b

The Painter Martin Ryckaert
Oil on panel. Ca. 1631
Dyck, Anthony Van
The Painter Martin Ryckaert
Oil on panel. Ca. 1631
Dyck, Anthony Van

The famous Flemish painter is portrayed almost full-length, sitting in a chair and wearing red robes and a fur coat. This landscape painter and contemporary of Van Dyck had no left arm, which is clearly shown, rather than hidden, in this portrait. In keeping with the Northern tradition of portraiture established by Anthonis Mor (1519-1576) and Adriaen Willem Key (1515/1520 - 1568), Van Dyck places

The Birth of the Virgin. The Annunciation. The Adoration of the Shepherds
Oil on panel. Before 1550
Coxcie, Michiel
The Birth of the Virgin. The Annunciation. The Adoration of the Shepherds
Oil on panel. Before 1550
Coxcie, Michiel

This triptych was made for the cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudule in Brussels and later sold "to Spain for a very high price" according to Carel van Mander (1604). Philip II donated it to El Escorial in 1586. A fine Romanist, Coxcie remained faithful to what he had learned in Italy: the old lady reading in The Nativity is a copy of the Persian Sybil that Michelangelo painted in the dome of the

Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy
Oil on canvas. 1627 - 1632
Dyck, Anthony Van
Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy
Oil on canvas. 1627 - 1632
Dyck, Anthony Van

The saint is depicted leaning on a boulder, in a state of mystical ecstasy following his meditation on death. That meditation is symbolized by the skull, cross and book. He is comforted by a musician angel, as is told in the book The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (Part II, second consideration). This work is from the artist´s second period in Antwerp, where he lived from 1627 to 1632 before leav

The Adoration of the Shepherds
Oil on panel. 1625
Wtewael, Joachim
The Adoration of the Shepherds
Oil on panel. 1625
Wtewael, Joachim

This Adoration of the Shepherds, signed and dated 1625, was executed in the final stage in Wtewael`s career. The intellectual approach to the scene (St Luke 2:15-18), which derives its emotive force from the refined rhythm of contrasting movements and lights, underlines the painter`s faithfulness to the Mannerist aesthetic he learned during his youth in Italy and France.The compositional structure

Brígida del Río, the Bearded Lady of Peñaranda
Oil on canvas. 1590
Sánchez Cotán, Juan
Brígida del Río, the Bearded Lady of Peñaranda
Oil on canvas. 1590
Sánchez Cotán, Juan

Brígida del Río was a well-known character in the late 16th century, as indicated by the descriptions of her in various literary and visual accounts; works that reflect a para-scientific and morbid interest in natural anomalies and deviations. Bearded women were associated in the collective imagination with lust and devilry. The painting’s meticulous, detailed technique is characteri

Queen Elisabeth of Valois, third wife of Philip II
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1605
Pantoja de la Cruz, Juan
Queen Elisabeth of Valois, third wife of Philip II
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1605
Pantoja de la Cruz, Juan

In this three-quarter portrait Queen Isabel de Valois (1546-1568) wears a black velvet gown with round sleeves from which her slashed red silk undersleeves embroidered with gold and silver thread peep out. On her head is a tilted flat cap which, like the buttons adorning the gown, is decorated with diamonds and rubies. The French queen would have dressed in this manner for solemn events, embellish

Endymion Porter and Anthony van Dyck
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1633
Dyck, Anthony Van
Endymion Porter and Anthony van Dyck
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1633
Dyck, Anthony Van

A protector and friend of Van Dyck, Endymion Porter (1587-1649) was secretary to the Duke of Buckingham and an important diplomat in the English Court. A great lover of the arts, he was in charge of acquiring works for the collection of King Charles I, and was one of Van Dyck´s greatest supporters during the latter´s stay in London. The aristocrat is shown frontally, wearing white satin, while the

Saint Francis comforted by an Angel
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1620
Ribalta, Francisco
Saint Francis comforted by an Angel
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1620
Ribalta, Francisco

Toward the end of the 17th century, Saint Francis’s iconography expanded as many of the classical biographic themes were replaced with more complex episodes -especially trance visions- mystical ecstasies that reflected the new Baroque esthetic and offered, in the case of Saint Francis, a new approach to the depiction of a figure whose life was being presented by his Order in terms of biographical

The City Treasurer and his Wife or The Money Changer and his Wife
Oil on panel. 1538
Reymerswale, Marinus Van
The City Treasurer and his Wife or The Money Changer and his Wife
Oil on panel. 1538
Reymerswale, Marinus Van

As part of the Royal Collection, the City Treasurer and his Wife (the so-called Money Changer and his Wife) is one of the few paintings by Marinus in Spain that can be traced to the eighteenth century, and one which played a decisive role in the rediscovery of the painter’s work. However, when it was first recorded in the collection of Isabel Farnesio in 1746 it was attributed to Lucas de Olanda (

Christ on the Cross
Oil on canvas. 1604
Barocci, Federico
Christ on the Cross
Oil on canvas. 1604
Barocci, Federico

Along with its religious emotiveness and the perfect rendering of Christ´s anatomy, the most attractive aspect of this composition is the landscape, which reproduces the view of the via San Giovanni from Barocci´s house in Urbino. In the foreground on the right is the Convent of Santa Caterina and the Ducal Palace with the “mercatale” spreading from its base right up to the Hermitage of San Rocco

The Martyrdom of Saint James
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Zurbarán, Francisco de
The Martyrdom of Saint James
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Zurbarán, Francisco de

The apostle Saint James is shown kneeling with his hands together in prayer, offering his neck up to the sword of the executioner whoprepares to decapitate him. Standing before the apostle, wearing a curious sort of headdress, is the authority who decreed his death. Behind Saint James are soldiers with halberds and various other figures who probably represent Herod Agrippa and the Jews who, accord

The Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple. The Visitation. The Adoration of the Magi
Oil on panel. Before 1550
Coxcie, Michiel
The Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple. The Visitation. The Adoration of the Magi
Oil on panel. Before 1550
Coxcie, Michiel

This triptych was made for the cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudule in Brussels and later sold "to Spain for a very high price" according to Carel van Mander (1604). Philip II donated it to El Escorial in 1586. A fine Romanist, Coxcie remained faithful to what he had learned in Italy: the old lady reading in The Nativity is a copy of the Persian Sybil that Michelangelo painted in the dome of the

Triumphal Arch
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1609
Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri)
Triumphal Arch
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1609
Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri)

Domenico Zampieri, called Domenichino, a Bolognese, painted this arch in celebration of Saint John the Baptist in Rome, and through it acknowledged his friend and protector Giovanni Battista Agucchi, a great theorist of Roman classicism. The emblems and biblical passages on the architecture allude to virtues associated with the saint. The painting comes from the collection of the painter Carlo Mar

Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1609
Allori, Cristofano
Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1609
Allori, Cristofano

Shown standing with damascene half-armor and white-and-gold bloomers, Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany was born to Ferdinand I and Christine of Lorraine in 1590. He succeeded his father as duke in 1609 and died on February 18, 1621. This painting was first listed at the Alcázar in 1636.

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