The image of Philip II (1527-98) as stern and assiduous defender of his political inheritance and of the catholic faith is tempered and enriched by the image of patron and collector of art. During the forty-two years of his reign (1556-98) through widespread patronage and persistent guidance he transformed the arts in Spain, then largely provincial, into the international and modern. The building of the Escorial - known in its own time as the eighth wonder of the world - and other royal residences attracted artists and craftsmen to enter the royal service, among them Titian, Anthonis Mor, El Greco, Federico Zuccaro, Pompeo, Leoni and Alonso Sanchez Coello. Part of his collection was to form the basis of the Prado Museum when it was founded in the nineteenth century. Although Philip is recognized as one of the most important art patrons of the Renaissance little has been published in English on his remarkable achievement. This selection of essays by Rosemarie Mulcahy gives a sense of the variety of talent, both Spanish and foreign, that flourished under Philip II's patronage and provides fascinating insights into the king's artistic projects.
The topics covered include: the function of religious art, court portraiture, art and diplomacy, art as propaganda, the use of preparatory drawings. The volume contains 16 colour plates and over 100 black and white illustrations.