Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Philip II of Spain 1527-1598 1550s

Studio of Antonio Moro 

Portrait of Philip II of Spain 1527-1598, Studio of Antonio Moro
Oil on Panel
16th Century
18 x 13 1/2 inches 45.5 x 34 cms
Charles Butler Esq, Hatfield
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Although Philip's duration in England as Mary's consort was brief (1554 - 1557), a number of portraits were circulated at the period. One of the earliest written references to portraits in Ireland, for example, is to one of Philip together with a portrait of Elizabeth I which hung either side of a door in an Irish home - thereby backing the two main religions.

The Butler family, from which this portrait comes, was one of Ireland's oldest, with a long history of Catholicism. They were elevated to Dukes of Ormonde in the 17th Century. Charles Butler of Hatfield, the past owner of this portrait, was from a subsiduary branch of this family.

No major iconography of Philip of Spain has been undertaken, and all that can be firmly established is that this is a significant head ''type'' of which two other examples are known in England. One was recorded in the collection of Lord Astor in 1983, and is loosely attributed to Coello - as was ours in the 1902 exhibition. It shows the same physiognomic type with the striking combination of a ruff supported by an ermine collar. The other of this type is in the collection of the Earl of Bath at Longleat.
The Prado in Madrid also has an example of this iconographic model, but in the absence of any major work on the subject, no definite artist has been identified. It is loosely attributed to Lucas de Heere (1534 - 1584).

The attribution to the studio of Anton Moro is on stylistic grounds. Moro worked for many of the European royal families - and was active in the court of Philip II between 1559 - 1560. There are aspects of the treatment of the flesh tones, particularly the rose hue to the lips and ears, together with the mannered treatment of face shape and ears, which recall the work of contemporary Spanish masters, in particular El Greco. However the manner in which they are fused in an over-all, more polished continental style, as this is, is typical of Moro in his Spanish period.
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