It was the age of Spain’s Inquisition and its Age of Gold. King Felipe II, who ascended the throne in 1556, lost an “invincible” armada to the fleet of Protestant England, but he also built the breathtaking palace of El Escorial near Madrid. In swift succession, he married four wives from the four great royal houses of Europe — Portugal, England, France and Austria — and fathered seven children.
Yet the Hapsburg dynasty fizzled out just a century after Felipe’s death in 1598, dwindling into a line of sickly kings with ever fewer successors — and finally none at all. Five portraits and a bronze bust of the ill-fated family occupy the first room of “Masterpieces From the Prado,” a magnificent new exhibition at The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo’s Ueno that has ransacked Madrid’s foremost artistic treasure house.
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