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Head of a Deer
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
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Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

Sevilla (Spain), 1599 - Madrid (Spain), 1660

Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y See author's file

Head of a Deer

1626 - 1636. Oil on canvas.
Room 011

While there is no documentation indicating this work was made for the Torre de la Parada, its subject suggests a relation to paintings intended for that hunting lodge. Unlike other painters, Velázquez’s stylistic evolution cannot be described in linear terms, as many of the characters in his painting appear throughout the greater part of his career. Thus, historians have serious difficulty dating the works that are only minimally documented. The present stag’s head is a good example, as it has been dated between 1626 and 1636. Its quality, subject matter and authorship suggest that it may have been intended for one of the Royal Seats, and historians have pointed out the possibility that it may be the same work listed in the 1637 inventory of the Alcázar Palace in Madrid, which states: it was killed by our lord the king, Philip the Fourth in the year 1626. That same work is described in different inventories through 1747 and is thought to have left the Royal Collections because it was severly damaged in the Alcázar fire of 1734. The reference to 1626 has led those who identify the present work with the one listed in the inventory to date it from that year, although some believe this may have been a simple error of transcription and that the real date was 1636. Others affirm that the work listed with that date corresponds to the Stag Horn preserved by Patrimonio Nacional. Whatever its year and origin, this is a painting of considerable quality, whose freshness, immediacy and naturalism have sometimes led it to be called a portrait of an animal. Its subject matter was quite common in the Spanish Court, as almost all of this country’s monarchs were passionate about hunting. In this sense, we should mention the abundance of hunting themes related to art and even to courtly poetry, especially in the works that decorated the Torre de la Parada, or entire books such as Anfiteatro de Felipe el Grande, whose author, José de Pellicer, praised the king for being capable of killing a bull in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor with a single shot from his blunderbuss (Text from Portús, J.: Velázquez. Guía, Museo del Prado, 1999, p. 152).


Technical data

Inventory number
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Head of a Deer
1626 - 1636
Height: 66 cm; Width: 52 cm
Bequest of Fernando de Aragón y Carrillo de Albornoz, Marquess of Casa Torres, 1975.

Bibliography +

Inventario del Alcázar de Madrid. 1636-1666., II, Madrid, 1666, pp. nº 2071.

Inventario Real Palacio de Madrid 1734, VI, Madrid, 1734, pp. nº 9746 (664).

Casa-Torres, M., La Colección Casa-Torres. I., Boletín de la Sociedad española de excursiones, 30 2/4, 1922, pp. 49.

Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II : 1701-1, Museo del PradoPatronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 500, nº 905.

Salas, Xavier de, Adquisiciones del Museo del Prado. I. Pintores españoles, Goya: Revista de arte, 132, 1976, pp. 347.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado: adquisiciones de 1969 a 1977, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1978, pp. 17.

López Rey, José, Velázquez. The Artist As a Maker, Bibliotheque des Arts, Lausanne-Paris, 1979, pp. 257-259, nº 33 / lám. 95.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 746-747.

Brown, Jonathan, Velázquez: pintor y cortesano, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1986, pp. 134 / lám. 156.

Velázquez, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1990, pp. 283, nº 46.

Buendía, José Rogelio, Velázquez, Anaya, Madrid, 1991, pp. 50.

Garrido Pérez, Carmen, Velázquez: técnica y evolución, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 151-155.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (III). Nuevas Adquisiciones. Museo Iconográfico. Tapices., Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. nº1937.

López-Rey, José, Velázquez: el pintor de los pintores : la obra completa, II, TaschenWildenstein Institute, Colonia, 1998, pp. 76-79.

Alcolea Gil, Santiago, Velázquez. La esencia del tiempo, Círculo de Lectores, Barcelona, 1999, pp. 62.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez: guía, Museo del Prado Aldeasa, Madrid, 1999, pp. 152.

Esplendores de Espanha de el Greco a Velazquez, Arte Viva, Rio Janeiro, 2000, pp. 208-209.

Moser, Wolf, Diego de Silva Velázquez. Das werk und der maler, I, Saint-Georges, Lyon, 2011, pp. 348.

Cruz Valdovinos, José Manuel, Velázquez: vida y obra de un pintor cortesano, Caja Inmaculada, 2011, pp. 78-79.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Velázquez 'Cabeza de venado'. En: Guía de la colección. Velázquez, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2012, pp. 26.

López-Rey, José The Wildenstein Institute, 'Diego Velázquez. Head of a stag' En: Velázquez. The complete works, Taschen, Colonia, 2014, pp. 342 n.30.

Kientz, Guillaume, Velázquez. L'Affrontement de la peinture, Cohen & Cohen, París, 2015, pp. 210 cat.54.

López-Rey, José, Velázquez: la obra completa, Taschen, 2020, pp. 342 nº 30.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1985. Núm. 3253.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1937.
1937. Velazquez: cabeza de venado / Catálogo nº 3253. / 1975. Legado del Marques de Casa Torres.

Exhibitions +

06.06.2020 - 25.07.2021

De El Greco a Velázquez. La cultura española durante la Unión Ibérica, 1580-1640
Río de Janeiro
12.07.2000 - 24.09.2000

23.01.1990 - 31.03.1990

Location +

Room 011 (On Display)

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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