NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Charles II

Don Juan Carreno de Miranda
Spanish 1614–1685
Charles II in armour 1681
oil on canvas
232.0 x 125.5 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P07101)

Lived: 6 November 1661 – 1 November 1700

Reigned: 17 September 1665 – 1 November 1700

Married to Marie Louise of Orléans (167989); Maria Anna of Neuburg (16891700).

Charles II was the last Habsburg to govern Spain. He was born with significant physical and mental handicaps and required the aid of carers his entire life. However, there is circumstantial evidence that suggests he had an interest in the arts as the number of royal artists employed by the court increased under his reign and he founded the Confradia de Escultores (Confraternity of Sculptors). He also summoned Luca Giordano to Spain who was appointed Court Painter in 1694 and the outstanding still-life painter Andrea Belvedere. While Charles II added some Venetian Old Masters to the Royal Collection, his most praiseworthy achievement was keeping it intact. After a century and a half of royal collecting, Charles II could boast one of the finest galleries of paintings in Europe, with seventy-six paintings by Titian and sixty-two by Rubens hanging in the Alcázar Palace alone. To these must be added the dozens of paintings by these artists displayed in the other royal residences.
Charles II died without an heir, bequeathing his kingdom to his French grand-nephew Philip, Duke of Anjou, which heralded the start of a new Bourbon royal dynasty in Spain.