This portrait of the Emperor Charles V, painted by Peter Paul Rubens himself, or produced in his workshop, is a copy of an original portrait by Titian painted in 1529.

Charles V ruled vast swaths of Europe as Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, Archduke of Austria and Lord of the Netherlands. This portrait of him in his finest armour, known as the ‘fleur-de-lys scroll armour’ and produced by Kolman Helmschmid in Bavaria, is a potent symbol of imperial power. The armour is now held in the Royal Armoury in Madrid.

Rubens travelled widely in Italy in 1600-01, absorbing the work of both Titian and Tintoretto on his journey. In 1603 he travelled to Spain, where Titian’s portrait of Charles V had been recorded in an inventory in 1561. This copy of the painting is most likely to have been made it around the same time.

It now enters the collection of the Royal Armouries in Leeds, where it stands as a handsome example of the tradition of representing subjects dressed in armour, as well as being a detailed study of the very best and most elaborately decorated armour of the 16th century.

Artists include


Recorded in Ruben’s posthumous inventory dated 1640 as no.49 (L’Empereur Charles Quint); Believed passed subsequently to the Dutch Stadtholders, the Princes of Orange at Huis Honselaarsdijk; transferred to Het Loo Palace in Amsterdam, 1696, th

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