(b. 1516/19, Utrecht, d. 1576/77, Antwerpen)

Portrait of Philip II in Armour

Oil on canvas, 186 x 82 cm
Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial

Anthonis Mor van Dashorst was above all a magnificent portraitist, working at the court of Charles V and Philip II in the Spanish Netherlands. A pupil of his uncle Jan van Scorel, from 1549 he enjoyed the protection of Cardinal Granvelle, with whom he travelled to Rome. This trip brought him into contact with the works of the great Cinquecento masters and with Mannerism. He combined the sharp eye for a close likeness characteristic of Netherlandish painting with the portrait style of Titian, which glorified the symbolic importance of the person portrayed. His works fuelled the spread of a new type of portraiture which was greatly esteemed in the royal houses of Europe, and in which the sitters, painted full-length and with the attributes of their rank, have an air of authority and dignity .

Anthonis Mor van Dashorst painted the portrait of King Philip II on a number of occasions. The tradition of court portraits stems back to this master, who defined the style that would be continued by his disciple Alonso Sánchez Coello and subsequently by the latter's followers, until the arrival of Velázquez.