Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




Who Has Ever Read in His Soul?

The Emperor Charles V, his forces spent



In only a very few years the burden he bore had become too much for him. At thirty-three he fell ill of gout, only to be plagued all too soon by a host of other ills. And at fifty he marshalled many armies and ruled vast territories of this world - yet he was hardly able to control his own destiny. With neither his hands nor his feet nor his other faculties under control, he was a broken man, beset as he was by so many afflictions.

Prudencio de Sandoval, On the Emperor Charles V, before 1620



Norblin, after Antoine-Jean Gros, 1812, Francis I of Frame Shows
Emperor Charles V
the Royal Tombs in Saint-Denis, 1837

The Entry of Charles V and Pope Clement VIII at the
coronation of the Emperor in Bologna, 1530


Although his physicians were appalled, they could do nothing to stop their sovereign, Charles V, from drinking ice-cold beer before breakfast and indulging in lavish repasts. Contemporaries reported that he was fond of fresh oysters, anchovies, eel pie, olives and hot, spicy Spanish sausages. Although his fingers were stiff from gout, he refused to let anyone cut up his meat for him.

The Holy Roman Emperor who, on the one hand, called for heretics to be burnt at the stake and, on the other, loved birds and flowers, was not admired — in fact he was often criticised and rejected. Yet, there has hardly ever been a ruler who has held so many lands under his sway. Born in Ghent in 1500, Charles V inherited the Duchy of Burgundy at the age of six. At sixteen he held the Spanish crowns and with them the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily. His father bequeathed the Austrian crown lands to him. At nineteen he was elected king of the Germans and at thirty he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Bologna. Because the Spanish overseas colonies were founded during his reign, Charles V was also ruler of Mexico and Peru, while the Netherlands conquests in the Pacific made him King of the Philippines. He had over seventy titles and ruled an empire in which the sun never set. For all that, Charles V was not power-hungry.

Everything his ancestors had not managed to conquer in changing alliances and valiant campaigns simply fell into his lap through inheritance and complex family genealogies. Perhaps he dreamt of a worldwide Christian empire to which he might have wanted to add the coasts of Africa and even more mythical realms overseas, but his strength was no longer equal to the task. A "pious prisoner of power", as one French scholar called him, he was torn between the factions quarrelling over his empire. At the age of fifty-five — seven years before he had had Titian  paint the present portrait — he abdicated and retreated to his Spanish country estate.

The leading Venetian painter of his day, Titian  had been appointed Court Painter to Charles V and created him Count Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur — an unprecedented honour for a painter. The Emperor is depicted sitting in an armchair. In his youth, he flaunted fashionable clothing; by now he has become a ruler who is so miserly that a visitor to his Court reported his hat was shabby and his cloak threadbare. He is contemplative, yet his eyes are blank, as if all the doubts he has entertained in his life are mirrored in them.

(с 1487/90—1576)
Emperor Charles V
Alte Pinakothek, Munich


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