Completed Project

El Escorial Monastery

Madrid, Spain


The Escorial was commissioned by Philip II in the late 16th century and expanded by Charles IV of Spain as the royal monastery of the kings of Spain. The High Altar of the basilica, consecrated in 1599, is adorned with jasper, colored marble, and paintings by the Roman artists Pellegrino Tibaldi and Federico Zuccari. The altar’s 20 monumental sculptures depict saints and were executed by Leone and Pompeo Leoni and their studio, brought to Spain to work for the Spanish Crown during the counter-reformation.

How We Helped

In 2008 and 2009, WMF, through the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage, supported the documentation and conservation of the High Altar’s sculptural elements, and WMF’s project partner, Iberdrola, installed new lighting systems for the Italian frescos that decorate the altar.

Why It Matters

WMF’s project to conserve the High Altar at the Escorial was one part of a larger conservation program, which addressed many needs to restore the basilica. WMF’s involvement highlighted the artistic treasures of the basilica and the conservation of the High Altar concluded the large-scale interior artistic restoration program.

Last updated: October 2015.


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