Royal Splendor in the Enlightenment: Charles IV of Spain, Collector and Patron

March 7-July 18, 2010

Royal Splendor is the world’s first major exhibition to showcase the exceptional art collection of King Charles IV of Spain (1748-1819). The exhibition, for which the Meadows Museum will be the exclusive venue outside of Spain, offers visitors the opportunity to discover for the first time the exquisite taste of Charles IV, who was one of the most important collectors both of his time and in the history of the Spanish monarchy. His interests were not only refined, but extremely varied, as evidenced in the innumerable paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, books, coins and musical instruments he collected by both contemporaneous and earlier artists.

Over 80 works will be featured in the exhibition, most of which have never before traveled to the U.S. Charles IV and his wife, Queen Maria Luisa, reigned from 1788 to 1808 (when they were forced into exile by Napoleon), at the end of the Enlightenment period, and the collection includes some of the finest examples of art styles of the day, from Rococo paintings to a stunning Neoclassical dessert centerpiece of semi-precious stones, lapis lazuli, gilded bronze and enamel. Other highlights include the queen’s ceremonial throne with its 18-foot-tall canopy, an elaborate sedan chair in which she was carried by footmen, a gilded bronze, porcelain and enamel bird cage clock, and a shotgun of wood, steel, gold and silver belonging to the king, an avid hunter. Also included are works by Francisco de Goya, the first court painter under Charles IV. The exhibition, which will be shown in the Jake and Nancy Hamon Galleries, will be accompanied by a scholarly, fully illustrated catalogue in English produced by the Meadows Museum.

This exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum and Patrimonio Nacional, and funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, the Spain-USA Foundation, and the Embassy of Spain, Washington, D.C.