Harvard Art Museums restores King Philip III portrait

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 18:00 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Call it a 17th-century portraiture whodunit. It began in 2018 almost by chance, when a curatorial fellow spied the work in the Harvard Art Museums’ storage area and took a closer look. The roughly 4-foot-wide by 7-foot-tall painting was of King Philip III of Spain, who ruled from 1598 to 1621. Experts recognized it as the type of piece that would have been sent to family reigning abroad, and distributed to foreign imperial households around Europe. Shipping lavish portraits of royals young and old to far-flung places was routine at the time, allowing relatives separated by thousands of miles to keep tabs on each other, and signaling to other power-hungry rulers and distant members of the Spanish kingdom that a particular monarch was still alive and well. “This was a common practice, particularly for courts like the one in Spain that had a large international reach,” said Cassandra Albinson, the museums’ Margaret S. Winthrop Curator of...

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