Rome, 1841-Versailles, 1920

Portrait of Alfonso XII of Spain

dated: 1878 – 1880 ca.

oil on canvas, cm 127×198


This grandiose portrait is of Alfonso XII of Bourbon, King of Spain from 1874 to 1885, the year in which he died prematurely at 28 years of age from tuberculosis. In this official image it is possible to recognise on the table top the documents that sanctioned the end of the Carlist war in 1874 and the end of the Cuban war. He promoted peace in the kingdom and from a very young age he earned the nickname ‘Pacemaker’ thus becoming famous throughout Europe.

On his jacket are pinned the most important honours that he received, including international ones.

This allows to date the painting after 1878, when he received the Knighthood of the Grand Cross of the Kingdom of Italy, but before 1881, when he was awarded the prestigious Order of the Garter, which does not appear among the honours. The recent restoration has uncovered the signature of the painter, Raimundo de Madrazo, by far the most productive and famous Spanish portraitist of the 19th and 20th centuries. His paintings were in great demand all around the world and this portrait ranks among his most important works also because of the subject portrayed.