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Philip IV
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
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Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

Sevilla, 1599 - Madrid, 1660

Miniatura autor

Philip IV

1626 - 1628. Oil on canvas, 57 x 44 cm.

This is an extraordinary example of the eventful life of many royal portraits during the Siglo de Oro, and it shows just how much those paintings, rather than immutable artworks, were objects with a representative function and could thus be altered depending on the use they were assigned at any given time. The present bust portrait depicts King Philp IV (1605-1665) in the mid 1620s, when he was just over twenty years old. It emphasizes his military responsibilities by presenting him in armor, with the crimson general´s sash across his chest. The lower half of the composition is rather anomalous as the model´s trunk appears excessively constricted by the frame, which impedes a figurative reading. This is unheard of in Velázquez, who was always extraordinarily skilled at fitting his models into the pictorial space. It is explained by the fact that, as a study of its technical characteristics has shown, this is actually a fragment of a larger canvas.

Based on that information and the model´s pose, it has sometimes been suggested that this may be a fragment of a famous equestrian portrait of Philip IV that Velázquez painted during his first years at court, which is known only from literary sources. There is no solid proof to confirm this hypothesis; moreover, the pose is similar to other portraits by Velázquez that were never equestrian. It closely resembles the portrait of the Duke of Modena (Modena, Galleria e Museo Estense), who also appears in three-quarter view, wearing armor and a red sash across his chest.

From a technical standpoint, there are striking differences between the head and the lower part. The former is rendered with more precise technique and its volumes and irregularities are meticulously shaped by the light. This approach extends to the hair, which, like the eyes, nose and mouth, is very detailed. On the other hand, both the metal and the cloth are rendered in a much freer manner, with highlights and touches of color, making them one of the first examples of what would become Velázquez´s most unmistakable technique. Such stylistic differences also appear in some of his other early works, including Democritus (Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts), and this has led many historians to suggest that it was painted at two different times. Thus, the first part would date from around 1625, and would encompass the face, which is constructed in a similar manner to those of the first portraits of Philip IV. X-rays have shown that this face was elaborately crafted. It has even been suggested that this may be the work on which the standing portrait of Philip IV at the Museo del Prado (P01182) is based. The sash and armor could date from a later period, judging by the stylistic differences mentioned above. This is how a work was constructed that somehow complements the early portraits of Philip IV previously discussed, as it is the first surviving portrait of that monarch by Velázquez in which the iconographic emphasis is on his military responsibilities, rather than his administrative facet (Text from Portús, J. El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Sorolla, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2010, p. 64).

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Technical data

Related artworks

Felipe IV
Etching on paper, 1878
Philip IV
Oil on canvas, 1626 - 1628
Inventory number
P01183
Author
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Title
Philip IV
Date
1626 - 1628
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
High/Height: 57 cm.; Width: 44 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Collection of Felipe V, Quinta of the Duke of El Arco, El Pardo-Madrid, “cuarta pieza sala de invierno”, 1745, [n. 73?]; Quinta of the Duke of El Arco, “pieza cuarta”, 1794, n. 74)

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Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Quinta duque del Arco, 1745. Núm. [¿73?].
Quarta Pieza Sala de Ynvierno [...] [73-74] Dos cavezas, una de golilla, y la otra a lo antiguo de quarta y media en quadro marcos blancos, y dorados=

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Quinta duque del Arco, 1794. Núm. 74.
Pieza quarta [...] [4768] 74 / Otro [quadro] de quarta y media en quadro representa una Caveza de golilla: en ... 120

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 74.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 74.
Velazquez. / 74. Retrato en busto de Felipe 4º joven. / Vestido de armadura de acero, con adornos de oro / y banda carmesí terciada al pecho. / alto 2 pies, 8 lin; ancho 1 pie, 7 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1071.
1071.-Retrato de Felipe IV, jóven. / Alto 0,57. Ancho 0,44.-Lienzo. / Parece retratado á la edad de 18 ó 19 años: carece / de bigote, y su cabello, corto por detras, baja por los / lados en dos mechones rizosos, sin ocultar las orejas. / Lleva armadura de acero con adornos de oro, banda / rosada terciada al pecho, y golilla.-Busto prolongado / de tamaño natural. La cabeza es del primer estilo del autor. / Un retrato de Felipe IV, mozo, de la primera manera de Velazquez figura / inventariado en el Buen Retiro por la testamentaría de Carlos II, pero con la / dimension de 2 varas y media de...

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Philip III by Velázquez
Madrid
06.06.2017 - 29.10.2017

Location +

Room 024 (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 15-09-2017 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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