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

The 16th century granted artists a new social condition in the Cortes, as court painters. In Spain, the reign Philip 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 from them!

Social consideration

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

From that moment many painters were linked to patronage of patrons, without being limited to the usual individual commissions for start keeping your sponsorship on an exclusive basis.

Self-portrait of Peter Paul Rubens

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

Even so, during practically the first half of the century XVII there were still many painters who fought for them to see recognized his work as a liberal art, since even as soon as he reached In the eighteenth century the artist was given very little social consideration seeing painting as a mechanical trade. his job was so contemptible that, ignoring those commissions that the great teachers by the Church or the Court, the vast majority of artists made their living by mass-producing paintings, of all kinds type of goods, which they themselves later sold or in their shops or on the streets.

Chamber painter

The court painter was no more than a designated artist so that he would carry out artistic commissions on a regular basis. of a royal or ecclesiastical court, especially focused on the portraits with social, ideological or aesthetic functions.

This service gave him a very privileged status with a rank that could well be compared to that of the chamberlain (a courtly position that allowed access to the royal chamber). Also, it goes without saying that they had a fixed salary instead of a payment for commissioned work counting as follows: with a unique character and exclusive, which involved the artist being linked to his patron and to not undertake other charges without authorization from the of the same. Likewise, they used to be given a formal title and alimony, as well as other payments of various nature, and even to have power in the different political missions and diplomatic.

Charles III portrait by Anton Rafael Mengs

The individual recognition achieved by this type of artist, especially Everything from the Renaissance made it not only the painters look for said prestige by taking advantage of 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 its prestige, as was the case with Titian, where kings and emperors they came to his workshop to be photographed.

However, not all the great painters we know today they became chamber painters; Caravaggio, Rembrandt, El Greco o Zurbarán never managed to be, either by personal decision, by budget disagreements or by the simple rejection of the own Kings.

Painting in the Spanish Court

At present, the most important part of the funds of the great European museums (the Prado, the Louvre, the National Gallery, the Hermitage, the Uffizi Gallery…) are mainly nourished by the royal painting collections that had their beginnings in the 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 of camera as the most trusted painter of the King, that is to say, the who received the main commissions from the Court. Also to who played the role of teacher – painter for some members of the royal family, as was the case of Juan de Flandes for Isabel the Catholic.

Carlos I

Charles I by Titian

The practice of the royal portrait as a way to exalt 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 to collect. He had Tiziano at his service, to whom he granted exclusivity to portray it. Likewise, at his command they also entrusted Antonio Moro and Diego de Arroyo.

Philip II

Philip II by Sofonisba Anguissola

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

Philip III

Philip III by Bartolomé González and Serrano

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

Philip IV

Philip IV by Velázquez

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

At his service he simultaneously had Velázquez and Rubens, so like a whole generation of Spanish baroque artists among whom were Alonso Cano and Juan Bautista Martínez of the deck

Charles II

Carlos II by Luca Giordano

Carlos II achieved put at your service the most reputable painter from Europe at the time, Luca Giordano, bringing it from Naples to commission numerous royal works, portraits and decorations.

In addition, it was commissioned to preserve the unity of the collection real estate by prohibiting 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 de Neuburgo 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 had many other painters at his Court. such as Juan Carreño de Miranda, Francisco Ricci, Sebastián Herrera Barnuevo, Claudio Coello and Juan Bautista Simó.

The Bourbons

Already in the eighteenth century, the arrival of the Bourbons caused it to diversify the origin of the chamber painters given that during the reign Most of the House of Austria had been Italian or Flemish.

With Philip V, first member of the new dynasty, a terrible event took place, the fire of the Alcázar 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 acquired a considerable number of works (by Poussin, Claudio de Lorena, Velázquez…), as well as What the classical sculpture collection of Cristina of Sweden.

The Family of Philip V by Louis-Michel Van Loo

Furthermore, Philip V, after the death of his father in 1711 inherited the decorative arts collection 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.

his successor, Ferdinand VI, had painters like Antonio González Ruiz, Corrado Giaquinto and Jacopo Amigoni.

Charles III took care to buy important pieces such as the Judith at the banquet of Holofernes Rembrandt, and it was to whom we owe today the construction which occupies the Prado Museum. For his Court counted with artists like 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 sensitivity, although very especially for being the patron of Francisco de Goya. In addition, much of the collection of neoclassical painting 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 Ferdinand VII, as well as such as Vicente López, Juan Antonio Ribera and Bartolomé; Montalvo. Vicente López and Ribera were in turn their daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, who was portrayed by many other great artists such as Joaquín Domínguez Becquer, Carlos Luis de Ribera y Fieve, Joseph de Madrazo and his son Federico.