Family of Felipe V, Van Loo

Family of Felipe V, Van Loo
Family of Felipe V, Van Loo

The Family of Felipe V immortalized by the Baroque painter Van Loo perfectly defines the new prevailing aesthetic in Spain with the establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula. From this moment on, the asceticism with which Spanish painting had been understood until then gave way to a much more ornate and artificial style that the monarch was in charge of bringing directly from his native France.


After the death of Carlos II, known as El Hechizado, in 1700, leaving no descendants, the Spanish throne passed into the hands of his great-nephew, Felipe V de Borbón. Felipe V (1683 – 1746) was one of the most stable monarchs that Spain had had until now, his mandate that lasted just over forty-five years, was the longest in Spanish history. After emerging victorious from the War of the Spanish Succession – Archduke Charles of Austria was also outlined as a possible successor to Charles II – the monarch settled definitively in Madrid.

A Bourbon-style reformism was established throughout the Peninsula and the “French way” began to be present in various aspects of Spanish society and culture. In the field of portraiture, the sober and simple forms that were maintained by the influence of artists such as Velázquez or Sánchez Coello were abandoned to give way to a much more lively and colorful painting that was recreated in a multitude ofdetails and ornaments and that tended to the rococo and ornate style that we can see in Versailles where the new monarch had been educated.

In this context it does not seem strange that the new king had one of his favorite painters come from France to represent his family and appoint him as his new court painter. Louis Michel Van Loo (1707 – 1771) was one of the most outstanding artists of the last years of the Baroque aesthetic. Born into a family of painters, the artist was able to travel to Italy where he studied the classics and upon his return achieved great fame.

On this occasion the artist presents us with a huge oil painting on canvas in ahorizontal format measuring more than five meters wide and four meters highin which he has represented the monarch family. The scene takes place inside a very decorative palace with a checkered floor that leads us to the characters, large columns, very pompous reddish curtains and even a music band enlivening the scene.

The characters appear arranged inthree well-differentiatedgroups: the center of the composition is reserved for the monarch and his wife, Elizabeth of Farnese, next to him he Philip I of Parma with his wife. In the group on the right we find the Infante don Carlos and his wife and the infantas María Teresa and María Antonia. To the left of the main group appears Prince Ferdinand and his wife. Completing the scene, two girls appear on the ground playing with a small puppy, the infantas Isabel de Borbón-Parma and María Isabelof Bourbon.

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