Spanish Painters Bring Heaven to Boston Museum

A new show examines how Spanish painters brought the ordinary world to heavenly heights

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

An Old Woman Cooking Eggs, Diego Velázquez, 1618

Philip III of Spain is one of history's also-rans. Historians tend to treat his reign, from 1598 to 1621, as a kind of listless interval between that of his father Philip II, who consolidated Spain's global empire, and that of his son Philip IV, a middling monarch but one whose court painter was Diego Velázquez. That cinched his immortality. Philip III was known for his piety, his love of luxury and his willingness to allow his chief adviser, the Duke of Lerma, to run things--not always well.

All the same, he presided over an era when Spanish painting was moving, sometimes...

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