NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Charles IV

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
Spanish 1746–1828
Charles IV 1789
oil on canvas
203.0 x 137.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P03224)

Lived: 11 November 1748 – 20 January 1819

Reigned: 14 December 1788 – 19 March 1808 (deposed)

Married to Maria Louisa of Parma.

Charles IV was the only eighteenth-century Spanish monarch truly interested in painting. Even as heir apparent he amassed a magnificent collection of paintings by such luminaries as Veronese, Andrea del Sarto, Guercino, Anton Raphael Mengs and Vernet.  After his succession in 1788, Charles continued expanding his collections of paintings, antiquities, clocks, jewellery and musical instruments with the help of agents throughout Europe. He also bought Italian art from estate sales of other collections. However, under Charles IV, Spanish taste drifted from Italian to French, with interiors blending French furniture with Spanish tapestries in the Empire and burgeoning Neo-Classical styles. Charles IV also integrated paintings into the overall decorative scheme of his palaces so that they blended harmoniously with their surroundings. The nude paintings that were removed by Charles III were eventually transferred to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and eventually to the Prado in 1827, where they hung in a ‘reserved hall’ whose access was prohibited to woman and children. In 1808 Charles IV was forced to abdicate by Napoléon and was detained in France until he was sent into exile. He eventually settled in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome, where he formed a new collection of around 700 paintings consisting mainly of Italian paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.