National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.

Related Resources

Exhibition Feature
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View the exhibition video podcast

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View the Press Conference Highlights

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NGA Backstory: The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain
David Brown, curator of Italian and Spanish paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, and Alvaro Soler del Campo, director of the Royal Armory Madrid and chief curator at the Patrimonio Nacional
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La Fama tapestry
image:  Flavors of Spain Recipe Note Card Set
(PDF 550 K)
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When Armor Was Art Self-Guided Tour
Exploring Images of Armor in the National Gallery of Art Collections
(PDF 1.61MB)
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Behind the Scenes: Garden Café España and the Culinary Traditions of Spain
Alvaro Soler del Campo, director, Royal Armory Madrid, and chief curator, Patrimonio Nacional; José Andrés, chef and owner, Jaleo and THINKfoodGROUP
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Behind the Scenes:Garden Café España y las Tradiciones Culinarias Españolas
Alvaro Soler del Campo, Director de la Real Armería en Madrid y Conservador jefe, Patrimonio Nacional y el Chef José Andrés, propietario del Jaleo y THINKfoodGROUP.
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Taste the delicacies of
Garden Café España
May 4–September 17, 2009
Image: Garden Café España
Featuring signature Spanish dishes created by Chef José Andrés

Flavors of Spain Recipe Note Card Set
image:  Flavors of Spain Recipe Note Card Set

View Works by
Peter Paul Rubens
Anthony van Dyck
Diego Velázquez

Press Materials

Image: Parade burgonet of Emperor Charles V, Filippo and Francesco Negroli, Milan, 1545, steel, gold, Patrimonio Nacional, Real Armeria, Madrid, D-30The Royal Armory in Madrid, assembled at a time when the Spanish Crown was at the height of its international power, is the oldest and one of the finest and largest armories in the world, imbued with great historical, artistic, and symbolic significance. Armor drawn from the unsurpassed holdings of the Spanish Royal Armory is shown in this exhibition alongside portraits of rulers dressed in the same armor, painted by such masters as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Diego Velázquez, and Alonso Sánchez Coello. Several large and magnificent tapestries from the royal collection also depict the armor in use.

Together, some 75 works illustrate the use of luxurious armor in projecting an image of royal power in Imperial Spain. The exhibition includes several full suits of armor, helmets, shields, and equestrian armor—worn in battle but more often in Renaissance parades, pageants, and jousting tournaments. The works of art on view date from the reigns of the Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I of Austria (1508–1519) and Emperor Charles V (1519–1558), to those of his successors, King Philip II (1556–1598), King Philip III (1598–1621), and King Philip IV (1621–1665). This is the first time that the armor has been exhibited together with the portraits in which it is depicted.

Exhibition Resource Table
To allow the young—and young at heart—to expand their understanding of the themes and objects on display, an educational resource table located at the entrance of the exhibition includes books, armor replicas, fabrics, and artists' materials. Gallery staff is on hand Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Saturday 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. to answer questions and engage visitors.

When Armor Was Art Self-Guided Tour
Available at the resource table and outside the exhibition, a self-guided tour When Armor Was Art highlights 25 works of art in the National Gallery's permanent collection as a complement to The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain. With the guide, visitors can find armored saints and sinners, portraits of European rulers, helmets, medals, and tapestries on both floors of the West Building. Ranging in size from miniature to monumental, these objects, like those in the exhibition, also demonstrate both the sheer beauty of armor and tapestries and their significance as symbols of wealth and power.
Self-Guided Tour Flyer (PDF 1.61MB) (Download Acrobat Reader)

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX), and the Patrimonio Nacional of Spain.

The exhibition has been organized in association with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Ministry of Culture, with the assistance of the Embassy of Spain in Washington, DC

Sponsor: The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

In-kind promotional support for this exhibition has been provided by Chef José Andrés of Jaleo and THINKfoodGROUP.