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

The armor, paintings, and tapestries in the exhibition were made for the Spanish royal family—the nobles, kings, and Holy Roman Emperors who expanded Spain’s influence throughout Europe and the New World. These objects reveal the exquisite work of artists and craftsmen who served the Spanish ruling class from the 15th to the 18th century. In the intricate and finely wrought details on shields, portraits, and tapestries, something quite different is also revealed: an attempt to link the Spanish monarchy with the pieties of the Catholic Church, the power of the ancient Roman empire, and the cultural glories of ancient Greece. David Brown, curator of Italian and Spanish paintings at the National Gallery of Art, describes this subtle advertising campaign waged by the Spanish throne to advance its goals and reputation.