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Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria
Dyck, Anthony van
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Dyck, Anthony van

Antwerp (Belgium), 1599 - London, 1641

Dyck, Anthony van See author's file

Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria

Ca. 1634. Oil on unlined canvas.
Not on display

An inventory from 1636 describes this striking portrait of the Infante Ferdinand: A half-length portrait, which the Marquis of Leganés brought back, of the Infante Ferdinand in the dress and manner in which His Highness entered Brussels. He has a baton in his right hand. He wears a bright red velvet coat with gold trim, and a scarlet sash embroidered with gold, in which there is a broadsword. There is a brocade curtain. It is by the hand of Van Dyck, a Flemish painter, with a gilded and burnished frame.

The Cardinal-Infante was the younger brother of King Philip IV of Spain. At age ten he was elevated to the status of cardinal, a custom of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1631, he was designated to succeed his aunt, the Infanta Isabella. He left Madrid in 1632 to become viceroy of Catalonia. Upon Isabella’s death on December 1, 1633, Philip IV appointed Ferdinand governor of the Spanish Netherlands. In early autumn of the following year, Ferdinand and his imperial army marched northward from Italy. They encountered the Swedish forces and defeated them at the Battle of Nördlingen on September 5-6, 1634. This handsome court portrait of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand commemorates his celebrated entry into the city of Brussels on November 4, 1634.

A contemporary description recounts the Cardinal-Infante’s arrival in Brussels: He entered into the city with all his train of attendants, dressed in scarlet with gold embroidery, with a long smock or jacket of the same fabric, plumes, a red sash, and the ceremonial sword worn by his grandfather Charles V when he subdued the enemy at the Elbe, and now by His Royal Highness at the Danube; his hair long and a collar of fine lace covering his shoulders, a custom of the country and a part of the dress of a military officer; his presence noble, his complexion clear and white, and the down on his upper lip blond, a characteristic of his family, at twenty-one years and six months of age.

The portrait documents a historic event and glorifies the Habsburg dynasty. The painting was sent home to Philip IV in 1636. It was hung in the royal palace, the Alcázar, near a painting of the Battle of Nördlingen. Ferdinand holds a field marshal’s baton in his right hand, emphasizing his military leadership. Tucked into his regal sash is the sword his great-grandfather Charles V used at the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547. The elaborate costume with its brilliant red and gold fabric is sumptuous and ceremonial, reflecting the importance of the Cardinal-Infante and his military achievements. In its prominent place within the Alcázar, the portrait served as a reminder of the significance of the Habsburgs and their place in Spanish history. Philip IV and the royal family were not the only audience for this portrait of the Cardinal-Infante, as van Dyck’s painting was engraved by Pieter de Jode the Younger, Adriaen Lommelin, and John Payne, each time with Ferdinand facing the same direction, and several copies were painted, including one for Charles I and other English nobility.

By 1630, van Dyck was in great demand as a portrait painter. To serve his illustrious clientele, which included European royalty and nobility as well as courtiers, diplomats, clerics, and scholars, in 1633-34 van Dyck set up his studio in Antwerp, the commercial and artistic center of the Spanish Netherlands. As the preeminent Flemish portrait painter, van Dyck was the natural choice for any political commission. He was known for his technical skills as a painter, his ability to capture a physical likeness, and his speed of execution. Van Dyck commonly worked on several portraits at once. In this case, his studio assistants likely painted the elaborate garments worn by the Infante, the background, and the brocade curtain, while van Dyck finished his magnificent head and graceful hands. After his assistants completed the figure, the Flemish painter worked over the whole surface, adding highlights and touches to the opulent gold and lace details. His signature style was influenced by his teacher Peter Paul Rubens’ methods and the color and painterly style practiced by the Venetian painters.

Van Dyck was one of the first European artists to give psychological depth and naturalness to his portraits. The Cardinal-Infante appears as if he has just walked into the artist’s studio. His raised baton suggests movement and adds to the naturalness of the pose, which is both dignified and unaffected. The victorious aristocrat gazes at the viewer with somber eyes and soft lips, which convey a subtle expression of humility and thoughts we can only imagine (Text drawn from Lipinski, L.: El Greco to Goya. Masterpieces from the Prado Museum, Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2012, pp. 123-124).


Technical data

Inventory number
Dyck, Anthony van
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria
Ca. 1634
Unlined canvas
Height: 107 cm; Width: 106 cm
Royal Collection (Royal Alcázar Palace, Madrid, "pieza nueva sobre el zaguán y puerta principal del palacio", 1636; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera sala de la Furriera", 1747, n. 63; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "antecámara del infante don Luis", 1772, n. 63; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de librería de Apolo", 1794, n. 63; Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera pieza de librería por parte de la terraza", 1814-1818, n. 63).

Bibliography +

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Inventario Nuevo Palacio Real, Madrid, 1772.

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Inventario Real Palacio de Madrid. 1814, Madrid, 1814.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey Fernado VII, [s.n, Madrid, 1834, pp. 66.

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Madrazo, Pedro, Catálogo descriptivo e histórico del Museo del Prado de Madrid, Madrid, 1872, pp. n. 1321.

Michiels, A., Van Dyck et ses elévès, Librairie Renouard, Paris, 1882, pp. 445-446.

Rooses, M., L'oeuvre de P.P.Rubens. Historie et description, Jos Maes, Amberes, 1890, pp. 292.

Geffroy, G., Madrid. Le Musée de Madrid, Librairie Nilsson, Paris, 1907, pp. 143.

Schaëffer, E., Van Dyck. Des meisters gemälde in 537 abbildungen, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1909, pp. 316.

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Destrée, J.; Müller de Ketelboetere, E., Une visite à l'art ancien, Lovain, 1910, pp. 31.

Beroqui, P., Adiciones y correcciones al catálogo del Museo del Prado, Imp. de E. Zapatero, Valladolid, 1917, pp. 192-193.

Allende-Salazar, J. Sánchez Cantón, F. J., Retratos del Museo del Prado: identificación y rectificaciones, Julio Cosano, Madrid, 1919, pp. 209-210.

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Noul, M., Sotomayor, F., Muguruza, P., Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Genève, 1939, pp. 124, 139.

Puyvelde, L. van, Van Dyck, Elsevier-Grund, Bruxelles-París, 1950, pp. 36.

Mauquoy-Hendrickx, M., L'Iconographie d'Antoine van Dyck. Catalogue raisonné, I, Palais des Academies, Bruxelles, 1956, pp. 105, 138, 159.

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Martínez Leiva, G.; Rodríguez Rebollo, A., Qvuadros [sic] y otras cosas que tienen [sic] su Magestad Felipe IV en este Alcázar de Madrid, año de 1636, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2007, pp. 143, nº429.

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Bodart, D. H., Pouvoirs du portrait. Sous les Habsbourg d' Espagne, CTHS Editions, 2011.

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Pérez Preciado, José Juan, 'Reyes Gobernadores, Nobles, Funcionarios y Artistas. La incesante llegada de obas de arte a España desde los Paises Bajos en el s.XVII', Aragón y Flandes. Un encuentro artístico (siglos XV-XVII), Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 2015, pp. 132-142 [138].

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1242.
Van-Dyck / 1242. Retrato del Infante Cardenal. / Banda roja, terciada al pecho. (Figura de medio cuerpo). / Alto 3 pies, 10 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 9 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1242.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1321.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1480.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1480.

Inv. Alcázar, Madrid, 1734. Núm. 222.
Pinturas que estan en las Bobedas de Palacio [...] 222 / Vn retrato de medio cuerpo del Infante Cardenal de vara y quarta en quadro sin marco de mano de Van Dic

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 63.
Pinturas existentes antiguas [...] En la primera Sala de este Oficio [...] 63 / Otro retrato del Señor Infante Cardenal Gor. de Flandes de vara y quarta en quadro original de Antonio Bandic = en 4 mil rs.

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 63.
Antecámara del señor Infante don Luis [...] 63 / Otro [retrato] igual [de más de medio cuerpo] del señor Infante Cardenal don Fernando de Avstria original de Van Dic

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 63.
Primera Pieza de Libreria por parte de la Teraza [...] 63 / Vara y quarta en cuadro, el Infante Cardenal don Fernando = Van Dick

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 63.
Pieza de Libreria la de Apolo [...] 63 / Vara y quarta en quadro: El Ynfante Cardenal D. Fenando de Austria. Vandic ... 4000

Inv. Felipe IV, Alcázar de Madrid, 1636. Núm. s. n..
Pieça nueva sobre el Çaguan y puerta Prinçipal de el Palaçio [...][429] Señor Infante Don Fernando. Un retrato del Señor Infante Don Fernando de medio cuerpo arriba, que le trujo el marqués de Leganés, en el traje y forma que entró su Alteça en Bruselas, en la mano derecha un bastón, cassaca de terçiopelo carmesí, guarneçido de galón de oro, banda carmesí recamada de oro, y en ella un espadón, cortina de brocado, es de mano de Bandehels, pintor flamenco, con moldura dorada y bruñida.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in yellow. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

From El Greco to Goya: Masterpieces from the Museo del Prado
Ponce, Puerto Rico
25.03.2012 - 16.07.2012

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado - Tokio
05.03.2002 - 23.06.2002

Displayed objects +


Baton, Command

Update date: 11-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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