Three centuries after King Charles III of Spain was born, the National Heritage is running this exhibition on art in the court during his reign. The exhibition highlights the importance of the decorative arts in the embellishment of royal sites.
Sponsored by Banco Santander Foundation, the exhibition will contain 22 works of art lent by renowned institutions such as the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Royal Palace in Naples. One of such works is a sculpture by Juan Pascual de Mena titled Charles III, from the collection belonging to Banco Santander.
An enlightened king and a patron of the arts, Charles III of Spain embodies the fruitful relationship between the Crown and art in the modern age. During his reign, he carried out a full-scale public work scheme and promoted State intervention in a variety of artistic fields. The latter was self-evident in court: in the works of art produced under his patronage which are now being shown in this exhibition.
The works being displayed were part of the King and his family’s daily lives. They had a threefold purpose: functional, decorative and emblematic. Thus, their quality, grandeur and opulence were an affirmation of power. They expressed not only the King’s status but the vastness of the monarchy of which he was the symbol as well. The royal abodes (the palace in Madrid and the places where the court spent each of the four seasons) reflected the marriage between power and enlightenment in the paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo, Anton Raphael Mengs, their Spanish disciples and Francisco de Goya, as well as in the tapestries, the porcelain, gemstone and class collections, and the clocks coming from the Royal Factories and from the workshops of leading craftsmen like Mattia Gasparini.
The decorative objects commanded to stress Charles III’s grandeur are one of Spain’s invaluable cultural treasures. In this exhibition, the National Heritage suggests a new reading of this chapter in the history of the Spanish art heritage by bringing together a set of iconic works that haven’t been in the same room since the eighteenth century, as well as pieces that have never been on display before or belong to usually inaccessible foreign collections. It’ll be the first time, for instance, that the portrait of the King by Anton Mengs presented to Frederick V of Denmark has been shown in Spain.