Lived: 14 October 1784 – 29 September 1833
Reigned: 19 March – 6 May 1808 (deposed); 11 December 1813 – 29 September 1833
Married to Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily (1802–6); Maria Isabel of Portugal (1816–18); Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony (1819–29); Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies (1829–33).
In 1808, Napoléon deposed King Charles IV and then Charles’s son Ferdinand VII before installing his own brother, Joseph Bonaparte as King Joseph I of Spain. Following Napoléon’s demise, Ferdinand regained the throne in 1813 with English backing. His reign was marked by misrule, oppression and political turmoil. Spain was nearly bankrupt as the American Wars of Independence deprived Spain of the revenue she had relied upon for centuries.
Ferdinand VII was responsible for the establishment of the Museo Nacional del Prado, which opened in November 1819 as the Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculpture. His vision was to bring together the collection of artworks that had thus far been scattered throughout the royal residences, to showcase the Royal Collection and demonstrate that Spanish art was the equal of any in Europe. He contributed significant personal funds to this enterprise, both to ready the building for opening and for the purchase of many acquisitions. He also donated important paintings from his personal collection by Ribera, Murillo, Dürer, Titian and Rubens. Upon his death, his daughter Isabella II, Queen of Spain, avoided the splitting of the Prado’s collection, by making a financial contribution to the Spanish government.