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Gallery Text

This portrait of Philip III, king of Spain from 1598 to 1621, is an exact likeness of the monarch, from his actual height (about 5 ft. 4 in.) to his armor, which still exists in the royal collection. It is one of at least five versions of the portrait produced by court painter Juan Pantoja de la Cruz to stand in place of the king in palaces and government buildings. As you can see in the adjacent gallery and corridor, U.S. presidents such as George Washington and John Adams adopted this style of full-height portraiture for their images as elected officials, appropriating the powerful visual language of kingship.

As official “chamber painter” at the Spanish court, Pantoja was the only person allowed to take the likeness of the king from life. His original drawing from a sitting with the king was carefully transferred to various canvases by tracing through the paper with powdered white gypsum on the back, after which Pantoja and his studio assistants would paint the replica portraits. Replicas like this one were sent as gifts to foreign courts or taken to disseminate the image of the king throughout his colonies. They indicate the power invested in the royal body and the ways that art helped maintain this position of authority.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Pantoja de la Cruz, Spanish (1553 - 1608)
Philip III of Spain
Work Type
c. 1605
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2210, West Arcade
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
203.84 x 99.7 cm (80 1/4 x 39 1/4 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Dr. Denman W. Ross
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • The Annual Report of the President of Harvard University to the Overseers on the State of the University for the Academic Year 1922-1923, President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, 1923), p. 228
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 123, 372, repr. b/w cat. no. 820
  • Simon Schama, "Blue as Can Be: A Color Archive's Treasures Reveal a History of Pigment", The New Yorker (September 3, 2018), pp. 28-32, p. 31
  • Jo Kirby, "Scientific Examination of Works of Art in Museums and Galleries", The Burlington Magazine (December 2019), No. 161, pp. 1004-1017, pp. 1008, in fig. 4
  • Leigh Anne Miller, "A Second-generation Framing Conservator on Tinkering with Picasso, Van Gogh, and Titian Frames", Art in America (August 4, 2020),, accessed August 24, 2020
  • Colleen Walsh, "Unraveling a Fine Arts Mystery", The Harvard Gazette (February 18, 2020),, accessed February 19, 2020

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 2210 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/2021 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • ReFrame

Related Works

Verification Level

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at