- Reference number
- Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y (Spanish)
- Felipe IV on Horseback
- 303 cm x 317 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1701, nº 248]; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 248; Palacio Real, Madrid, pieza de comer, 1814-1818, nº 248).
The son of Felipe III (1578-1621) and Margarita de Austria (1584-1611), Felipe IV was born in 1605 and died in 1665.
This work is considered completely by Velázquez's hand and presents a personal reflection on a genre that had great prestige in the court: equestrian portraiture. It is quite probable that Velázquez drew on examples by Titian —Carlos V at the Battle of Mühlberg (P00410)— and Rubens when he began the present work.
Velázquez eschews all rhetoric here, focusing on transmitting what is essential: an image of the King armed as a general, who confidently dominates the impetus of his rearing horse and is thus able to bear the reins of his State and of his own character with a firm hand. His upright posture and firm gesture add to the sense of majesty.
Proof of the artist's care in making this portrait are the corrections —pentimenti— visible on the king's head, bust and leg, and on the horse's back legs and tail.