The  Royal  Eye

To  the  400th  Birthday  of  Philipp  IV  of  Spain

Velázquez / Philip IV of Spain

April  8,  2005

In the history books his government (1621-1665) is quickly ticked off. Grandson of Emperor Charles V, his father left to him “the Government finances in immense disorder” (Meyers), the latter himself had started with a paternal debt burden of 150 million ducats, heaped up by the history-dominating Philip II, not least for his Armada against the English, on its departure throwing everything hitherto into the shade, while its no less immense failure – “The Lord Almighty blew, And the Armada flew to all winds” (Schiller) – found its resounding eyes-delighting echo in the North-Netherlandish marine painting of the time, in that region thus which for Spain was another bottomless ducats pit and strongly contributed to the political out of the country. So Philip IV emulated the father and quickly left the unpleasant daily business to the less high-bred. To dedicate himself to that

that  only  makes  life  real  life – the  arts .

And in this regard found the accomplishment of his desires, the comfort of his soul, the infinite joy and delight, in short, the satisfaction of the

pleasure  of  his  eyes

in just those Netherlands, though their southern ones. With the royal Rubens in Antwerp as starting point + turntable,

whose 1628/29 stay in Madrid

Gerard Mercator, Castile
1630 new edition of the map of 1606 centered on Madrid

solidified a connection which culminated in the 1636/38 order for 120 paintings as complete decoration of the hunting castle Torre de la Parada. “Philip IV became Rubens’ most important late patron, acquiring or commissioning works for the Alcázar, Buen Retiro (1632), and … the Torre de la Parada” (Peter C. Sutton, The Age of Rubens, 1993, p. 40). To be executed also with the participation of others, for which Rubens especially relied on the co-operation of

Frans  Snyders

1579 Antwerp 1657

with whom in regard to animals and fruit he occasionally worked together for which in her definitive catalogue for Snyders (1989) Hella Robels proves 40 oils as ascertained.

While the summoning of colleagues for mentioned 1636/38

“ famous  orders  of  Philipp  IV  of  Spain ”

– for  which

“ Snyders … had  to  deliver  60  ( sic ! )  paintings ” –

(Robels, op. cit., p. 99) was completely left to Rubens himself, the order of 1639/40 for 18 pictures for the palace in Madrid running likewise through his hands

expressly  designated  Snyders  as  co-consignee .

Measured at Rubens’ own contribution of these last years of just (!) more than 80 works (Sutton, op. cit., p. 44) in such a manner

Snyders’  enormous  part  and  his  esteem  by  Philipp .

A part of these untolds was destroyed by fire in 1734, but 17 of these are proven for Snyders by copies as once belonging to the “Collection King Philip IV”. And 20 further handed down in the original in the Museo del Prado as national successor of the Royal Gallery for Paintings and Sculptures with

“ one  of  the  most  important  collections  of  paintings  in  the  world ,

among  which  many  first-rank  works .

The  best  what  the  Spanish  rulers  have  brought  together  through  the  centuries

is  joined  here ,

… of  the  non-Spanish  (masters)  esp.  the  old  Netherlanders … ”

(Jahn, Lexikon der Kunst, 1957, p. 553).

With Philip IV as the central spiritus rector of this assembly (“was largely responsible for building up the royal collection of paintings, which later became the basis of the Prado Museum”, Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2005).

And  nowhere  Snyders  is  more  richly  present .

Only with recognizable distance (14) followed by Munich and with 9 each by the Hermitage and the public collections in Antwerp and Brussels.

What all once run under Snyders’ name has today been thinned out to less than the half.

And  only 1 4 ( sic ! )  of  his  oils

Hella Robels specially accentuates within the catalogue by own valuation!

Among them …

“ Just received the James Figg item safely today. I have a couple questions. Art in general is new to me so I‘m asking you to educate me on this item … First of all I‘m happy with the item, just trying to understand it better … Thanks again ”

(Mr. A. C., March 27, 2008)