After 20 Years, Portrait of Spain’s Royal Family Is (Nearly) Finished

Antonio López in his studio in front of his portrait of the Spanish royal family, nearly complete after 20 years. Photo: Gonzalo Cruz, courtesy the EP.

According to Spanish officials, a painting of the country’s royal family 20 years in the making is finally complete—although artist Antonio López is saying it will take as much as another 20 days before it is truly finished, according to Agencia EFE.

Originally commissioned in 1994, the painting is based on a 1992 photograph of then-King Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in favor of his son in June of this year; his wife, Queen Sofia; and their three children: Elena, Cristina, and the new King Felipe VI.

The long-awaited canvas will be featured in the upcoming exhibition at the Royal Palace, “Portraiture in the Royal Collections,” curated by Carmen García-Frías and Javier Jordán de Urries. The painting will finally take its place beside depictions of other Spanish monarchs dating back to Queen Isabella, from masters such as Francisco de Goya, Juan de Flanders, and Diego Velázquez.

In an attempt to justify the epic delay on the portrait, López likened painting Spain’s royal family to writing War and Peace. Even now, the perfectionist is not completely satisfied with his handiwork, telling EFE that he is only happy with the piece “at times” and that he was greatly hindered by not being able to work from life, but being forced to paint from a photograph. (López’s meticulous working methods were the subject of Victor Erice’s 1992 film, El sol del mebrillo, or Dream of Light.)

Hopefully, after all these years, the painting will pass muster—unlike some recent depictions of European royals (see “Prince William Claims to Love This Unfortunate Kate Middleton Portrait“).

“Portraiture in the Royal Collections” will be on view at Madrid’s Royal Palace through April 2015. An opening date is yet to be announced.

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