NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Ferdinand VI

Louis-Michel van Loo
French 1707–1771
Fernando VI
oil on canvas
65.0 x 50.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P04171)

Lived: 23 September 1713 – 10 August 1759

Reigned: 9 July 1746 – 10 August 1759

Married to Barbara of Portugal.

Son of Philip V and Maria Louisa of Savoy, Ferdinand VI attained the Spanish throne on the death of his father in 1746. He enjoyed a contemporary, cosmopolitan taste in art that incorporated both French and Italian aesthetics. The palace style of his reign reflected the prosperity of the country – it was flamboyant, sumptuous and decorative. Ferdinand VI was a patron of the arts rather than an avid collector. He instigated a new pattern of relations between Spanish monarch and Italian artists. Artists were invited to come to Madrid to work on major projects where they were principally employed in redecorating the palace interiors for which they produced paintings, frescoes and sculpture. They were also engaged in creating set designs for plays and pageants, entertainments that the court was fond of staging. Artists such as Corrado Giaquinto and Jacopo Amigoni took up the offer to relocate to Spain. After his wife Barbara of Portugal died in 1758, Ferdinand VI fell into a deep depression, dying the following year.