The chamber painters of the Spanish monarchy Paintings 09/12/2020

The sixteenth century granted artists a new social condition in the Cortes, as camera painters. In Spain, the reign of Felipe IV was the culminating moment for this type of office with the simultaneous presence of two of the great masters of painting, Rubens and Velázquez. Today we are going to talk to you from them!

Social consideration

It was precisely in Renaissance Italy where it first occurred this event that ended revolutionizing the artistic plane, in which they were awarded to painters a new condition in the different Courts of the time.

From that moment on, many painters were linked to patronage patrons, without being limited to the already usual individual commissions for start to maintain your sponsorship in exclusive conditions.


Self-portrait of Peter Paul Rubens


This trade that, as we have said, had its fruits first in the Italian Courts was gradually applied to other Courts of the Modern Age like France, England, Portugal or Spain.

Even so, during practically the first half of the century 17th century still, many painters were fighting to make them see recognized his work as a liberal art, since not well reaching In the 18th century, the artist was given very little social consideration seeing painting as a mechanical trade. His job was so despicable that, ignoring those commissions obtained by the great teachers on the part of the Church or the Court, the vast majority of artists made their living by producing serial paintings, everything type of genres, which they themselves later sold or in their stores or in street vendors.


Camera painter

The camera painter was nothing more than a designated artist to carry out artistic commissions on a regular basis well of a royal or ecclesiastical court, especially focused on the portraits with social, ideological or aesthetic functions.

This service meant that he had a very privileged status. with a rank that could well be compared to that of the chamberlain (courtly position that allowed access to the royal chamber). Likewise, it goes without saying that they had a fixed salary instead of a payment per work commissioned counting like this with a unique character and exclusive, which implied the artist to be linked to his patron and to not to undertake other charges without authorization from the of the same. Likewise, they were usually given a formal title and alimony, as well as other payments of various nd them, and even to have power in the different political missions and diplomatic.


Portrait of Carlos III by Anton Rafael Mengs


he individual recognition that this type of artist achieved, on everything from the Renaissance made not only painters said prestige by welcoming the great patrons of the time, but it was arrived; to the point of being the Court who was in charge of look for the great artists to increase with them even more his prestige, as was the case with Titian, where kings and emperors They came to his studio to be portrayed.

However, not all the great painters that we know today they became camera painters; Caravaggio, Rembrandt, El Greco o Zurbarán never managed to be, either by personal decision, due to budgetary disagreements or the simple rejection of one's own Kings.


Painting in the Spanish Court

Currently, the largest part of the funds of the major European museums (the Prado, the Louvre, the National Gallery, the Hermitage, the Uffizi Gallery) draw mainly on the royal collections of paintings that had their beginnings in production of the painters of the same courts, to which is added the external acquisitions.

In Spain, the Catholic Monarchs adopted the position of painter cameraman as the King's most trusted painter, that is, the that received the main orders of the Court. Also to who performed the role of teacher & ndash; painter for some members of the royal family, as was the case of Juan de Flandes for Isabella the Catholic.

Carlos I


Charles I by Titian


The practice of the royal portrait as a way of exalting the figure of the monarch would begin with the Habsburg dynasty. Carlos I commissioned mostly religious works and portraits always with a practical purpose, of image, but without interest in collecting. He had Titian in his service, to whom he granted the exclusivity to portray it. Likewise, at his command they were also entrusted Antonio Moro and Diego de Arroyo.

Philip II

Felipe II by Sofonisba Anguissola


His son Felipe II was the one who took charge of valuing the Collection Royal as a treasure to be preserved by ascribing it to the Crown as invisible heritage. This met numerous paintings that were previously bought by his father, others inherited from his grandmother Juana, to which he added other important works mainly by the hand of El Bosco. In his case, his official painters included Alonso Sánchez Coello, Sofonisba Anguissola, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz and Juan Fernández de Navarrete.


Philip III

Felipe III by Bartolomé González y Serrano


Felipe III is true that he did not count with great renowned artists at your service as if your father and grandfather did, but had Pantoja de la Cruz, Rodrigo de Villandrando and Bartolomé González and Serrano.


Philip IV

Felipe IV por Velázquez


Philip IV marked a before and an after being considered a golden age of painting in Spain thanks to its politics shopping all over Europe, and commissioning various pictorial programs with which to decorate their palaces to the great artists, a fact that made for the Royal Collection to reach a level far above the rest of European royal collections.

At his service he had simultaneously Velázquez and Rubens, so as a whole generation of Spanish Baroque artists among which were Alonso Cano and Juan Bautista Martínez of the Deck.


Charles II

Carlos II by Luca Giordano


Charles II succeeded put the most reputable painter at your service from Europe at that time, Luca Giordano, bringing him from Nipoles to commission numerous royal works, portraits and decorations.

In addition, he took care to preserve the unity of the collection forbidding its sale or dismembering it. Prevented, by example, that the painting of the Adoration of the Magi of Rubens was sent to Germany by his wife Mariana of Neoburg as gift to his father, although otherwise, he could not prevent Mariana from sending to his brother another canvas of flamenco, the Reconciliation of Esau and Jacob, today at the Staatsgalerie Schleissheim.

Likewise, he also counted in his Court with many other painters such as Juan Carreño de Miranda, Francisco Ricci, Sebastián Herrera Barnuevo, Claudio Coello and Juan Bautista Simó.


The Bourbons

Already in the 18th century, the arrival of the Bourbons made it diversify the origin of camera painters since during the reign of the House of Austria had been mostly Italian or Flemish.

With Felipe V, first member of the new dynasty, a terrible event occurred, the fire of the Alcazar of Madrid, in the year 1734, in the that many of the masterpieces that were part of the Royal Collection. On its land, it was built the actual Palacio de Oriente, and both for its decoration and for that of the Palacio de la Granja a considerable amount of works were acquired (from Poussin, Claudio de Lorena, Velázquez), as well as the collection of classical sculpture by Cristina of Sweden.


The Family of Philip V by Louis-Michel Van Loo


In addition, Felipe V, after the death of his father in the year 1711 inherited the collection of decorative arts known as the Dolphin Treasure. As for painters at his service, he counted with Miguel Jacinto Meléndez, Louis Michel van Loo and Michel Ange Louase.

Su sucesor, Ferdinand VI , had painters such as Antonio González Ruiz, Corrado Giaquinto and Jacopo Amigoni.



Carlos III was in charge of buying important pieces such as that of Judith at the banquet of Holofernes of Rembrandt, and it was to whom we owe the construction that occupies the Prado Museum. For his Court he had artists such as Mariano Salvador Maella and Antonio Rafael Mengs.


Carlos III by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes


A Charles IV He is still remembered for his enormous artistic sensibility, although very especially for being the patron of Francisco de Goya. In addition, much of the neoclassical painting collection that we see Today in the Prado Museum it was acquired precisely by him.


Esteve y Marqués y Agustín (copy of Francisco Goya y Lucientes)


Goya was also the painter of Fernando VII , like this like Vicente López, Juan Antonio Ribera and Bartolomé Montalvo. Vicente López and Ribera were in turn of their daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, who was portrayed by many other great artists such as Joaquín Doménguez Becquer, Carlos Luis de Ribera and Fieve, José de Madrazo and his son Federico.



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