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Tomás de Iriarte
Inza, Joaquín
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Inza, Joaquín

Ágreda, Soria (Spain), 1736 - Madrid (Spain), 1811

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Tomás de Iriarte

Ca. 1785. Oil on canvas.
Room 089

An in-depth study of Joaquín Inza is yet to be conducted that would allow us to gauge his role and importance in the panorama of Spanish art in the second half of the eighteenth century. Inza is known for his portraits of the royal family and of aristocrats and intellectuals from the period, and is now regarded as an estimable and discrete painter with a precise, austere style, although somewhat dry in terms of line and marked by a cool palette. The influence of Anton Raphael Mengs is evident in the smooth, lacquered appearance of his painting.

This portrait of the poet, playwright and composer Tomás de Iriarte (1750-91), from the Canary Islands, lacks the stiffness characteristic of Inza´s earlier paintings. The brushwork is tight and the line clear, especially in the sitter´s facial features and in the lace frills. Compositionally, the work falls within traditional approaches to the genre, unlike the portraits Francisco de Goya would produce some years later, such as Goya´s portrait of the writer´s brother Bernardo de Iriarte (now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg). Yet Inza´s portrait of the younger brother reveals technical confidence and, above all, a greater naturalness in the evocation of the figure´s character than in his earlier works. In this sense, the canvas represents a step beyond the portraits he made of the sixth Count of Fernán Núñez in 1784, which reflect a greater interest in details as well as an assimilation of international tendencies, particularly Roman ones.

Iriarte, who appears to be around 35 in this portrait, is presented before a neutral background of brownish tones against which he stands out, owing to the strong lighting that strikes him from the upper left. Depicted slightly more than halflength and in a three-quarter view, he turns his head toward his left to look directly at the viewer with a frank expression that conveys the sharp wit for which this writer of the Enlightenment was known. Although the overall conception of the work is quite sober, the portrait itself is full of meaning, amounting, in effect, to a song of praise for Iriarte´s worth and the prominence he had achieved by that time.

He sports a greyish wig with a ponytail that can be seen in shadow, falling down his back, and wears a navy blue coat and red waistcoat in which he hides his right hand as was fashionable at the time. Both garments are trimmed with a palmate motif in gold, and his shirt is adorned with lace ruffles on the front and at the wrists. This is the uniform corresponding to his post as the archivist of the Supreme Council of War, a position he held from 1776. In the lower left-hand corner is a table on which an inkwell with two pens, a folded sheet of paper and a book are placed, attributes that allude to his vocation as a translator, poet and playwright. His great passion for music is indicated by the book he holds upright with his left hand, the title of which is legible on the spine: La música, poema (Music, a poem), a didactic work in verse Iriarte published in 1779 and which led to immediate international recognition. Likewise, the ring on his pinkie finger bearing a cameo may possibly refer to his nickname, Camafeo (cameo) with which his friend the Marquis of Manca, Don Manuel Delitala, christened him, owing to a gesture that Iriarte made when he played the violin.

A work from his mature period, this painting may rightly be viewed as Inza´s best surviving portrait. It also provided the most widely disseminated image of Iriarte, most famously in an engraving by Manuel Salvador Carmona, published in 1792 shortly after the poet´s death. Salvador´s engraving is clearly an homage, as indicated by the weeping putto, representing Thanatos, who snuffs out the torch representing the late-lamented writer´s life. Iriarte is identified in an inscription beneath the image, which also supplies us with the name of the artist and engraver, enabling us to confidently attribute the painting to Joaquín Inza (Text from Albarrán, V.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 192).

Technical data

Related artworks

Tomás de Iriarte
Taille douce: etching and engraving on laid paper, 1792
Salvador Carmona, Manuel
Inventory number
Inza, Joaquín
Tomás de Iriarte
Ca. 1785
Height: 82 cm; Width: 59 cm
José Valenciano; acquired by Ministerio de Instrucción Pública for the Prado Museum, 1931.

Bibliography +

Cotarelo y Mori, Emilio, Iriarte y su época, Real Academia Española, 1897, pp. 156.

Santamaría, M., Informe relativo [...] cuadro-retrato de D. Tomás de Iriarte por Joaquín Inza, Boletín de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes, 1931, pp. 86.

Mayer, A. L., Historia de la pintura española, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1942, pp. 520.

Ars hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico, XVII, Plus Ultra, Madrid, 1965, pp. 325.

Ressort, C., Eugenio Lucas et les Satellites de Goya, Musee du Louvre, París, 1972.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Valverde, J., El pintor Joaquín Inza, Goya, 152, 1979, pp. 90-93.

L' art européen á la cour d'Espagne au XVIIIe siecle, Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris, 1979, pp. 83.

El arte europeo en la corte de España durante el siglo XVIII, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General del Patri, Madrid, 1980, pp. n. 28.

Coleccion Bolivariana. Fundacion John Boulton, Editorial Arte, Guadaira, 1983, pp. s/n.

Simon Bolivar: bicentenario de su nacimiento 1783-1983, Consejo Nacional de Cultura, Caracas, 1983.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 337.

Anes, G., Carlos III y la Ilustracion. 1788-1988, II, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1987, pp. 628.

Urrea Fernández, Jesús, Un Inza recuperado por El Prado y otras noticias sobre su obra, Boletín del Museo del Prado, X, 1989, pp. 79-85.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 178.

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. nº1635.

Jovellanos, Ministro de Gracia y Justicia, Fundacion la Caixa, Gijón, 1998, pp. 192.

Siglo XVIII: España, el sueño de la razón, Siglo XVIII. España, el sueño de la razón, Fundación Arte Arte y Ciudadania, 2002, pp. 304-329.

Luna, Juan José, Guía actualizada del Prado. Una historia de la pintura a través de las obras del Museo, Alfiz, Madrid, 2005, pp. 107.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., La duquesa de Alba ''musa de Goya'' el mito y la historia, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2006, pp. 31 / lám. 5.

Luna, J. J., Tomás de Iriarte (h. 1785). En: Ruiz Gómez, L.: El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2006, pp. 168, n. 55.

Ruíz Gómez, L., El retrato español en el Museo del Prado (1490-1800), En: Ruíz Gómez, L.; Barón, J. El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Sorolla, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2010, pp. 29.

Albarrán, Virginia, En: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 192-193, nº56.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1933. Núm. 2514.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1635.
Autor, Inza. / 1635. Asunto, Don Tomás Iriarte. / Lienzo, 82 x 59. / Nº catalogo, 2514. /Adquirido en 1931 por el Patronato del Tesoro Artístico.

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Sorolla
01.10.2010 - 08.01.2011

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
12.06.2007 - 02.09.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
05.03.2007 - 20.05.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
12.12.2006 - 18.02.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
19.09.2006 - 26.11.2006

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
22.06.2006 - 21.08.2006

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
Santiago de Compostela
09.03.2006 - 14.05.2006

Jovellanos, ministro de gracia y justicia
12.05.1998 - 28.06.1998

Carlos III y la Ilustración
27.02.1989 - 16.04.1989

Carlos III y la Ilustración
09.11.1988 - 22.01.1989

Location +

Room 089 (On Display)

Update date: 07-10-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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