L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Two portraits of Philip IV, by Gaspar de Crayer, circa late 1620s

Philip IV of Spain (8 April 1605, Valladolid – 17 September 1665, Madrid), King of Spain and of Portugal, as Philip III. He was the eldest son of Philip III and his wife, Margaret of Austria. In 1615, he was married to Elisabeth of France; the bride was thirteen, the groom ten. The union wasn't entirely congenial, but it produced seven children - though only one son, whose death at the age of sixteen greatly distressed his father. Elisabeth died in 1644, and two years later he remarried. His second wife, Mariana of Austria - a niece; the Habsburgs were, famously, a genetic mess - bore him five children. Only two of them survived childhood, and the health of his heir, the future Charles II - who would be the last Habsburg king of Spain - was always uncertain.

Notably stiff in public, with a strong sense of his royal dignity, it appears Philip displayed a warmer personality in private. As a ruler, he is considered to have lacked confidence and decisiveness, and depended too much on the opinion of others. This may have been a result of the lingering influence of Count Olivares, who was Philip's close adviser when he ascended the throne at the age of sixteen, and remained his very powerful and domineering chief minister for the next twenty-two years.

Under Philip's reign, Spain underwent a political and military decline; his ineffective leadership has often been held to be the cause of these developments but, in reality, the causes were systemic. Philip is most remembered today for his great passion for collecting art - he had acquired some four thousand paintings by the time of his death. Most famously he was the patron of Diego Velázquez, who was appointed court painter in 1624, and held that title for the remaining thirty-six years of his life.


Gaspar de Crayer (18 November 1582, Antwerp - 27 January 1669, Ghent), Flemish painter. A contemporary of Rubens - the two careers had many parallels - he is best known for his numerous altarpieces, which can be found in churches throughout Europe.

The King is wearing the same armor in both paintings, and the background drapery is almost identical.

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