Paintings, armor and power at Madrid's Prado

Fri May 14, 2010 12:56pm EDT
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By Valle Aviles Pinedo

MADRID (Reuters Life!) - Luxury armor paired with portraits by masters such as Rubens, Titian or Velazquez depicting emperors and kings wearing the very same armor are on show in "The Art of Power" at Madrid's Prado Museum.

The exhibition contains 35 paintings and 27 suits of armor, helmets, shields and tapestries dating from the reign of Emperor Charles V (1519-1556) and his successors Philip II (1556-1598), Philip III (1598-1621) and Philip IV (1621-1665).

Recalling a time when the Spanish crown was at the height of its power, the works on display show some of the members of the Habsburg dynasty that ruled much of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

"The aim of the exhibition is to focus on the relationship between the collection of the Royal Armoury and its presence in the court portrait," exhibition curator Alvaro Soler del Campo said in a statement on the Prado Web site.

"The connections between the two collections are much closer than had been previously appreciated."

The exhibition consists of five different sections located in two rooms in the new wing of the museum, which opened in October 2007.

It includes some masterpieces such as "Emperor Charles V, on horseback, at Mhlberg" by Titian along with the armor made by Desiderius Helmschmid that the monarch wore at that battle.

The Royal Armoury of Madrid is the oldest and has one of the finest and largest collections of armor in the world, rivalling the imperial collection in Vienna.   Continued...

<p>A cameraman films the "Armour of Philip II called the Burgundy Cross Armour" by Wolfgang Grosschedel during the media presentation of the exhibit "The Art of Power. The Royal Armoury and court portraiture" at Madrid's Prado Museum March 8, 2010. REUTERS/Susana Vera</p>