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Portrait of an Old Man
Oil on panel. 1525 - 1527
Cleve, Joos Van (Also Known As Joos Van Der Beke)
Portrait of an Old Man
Oil on panel. 1525 - 1527
Cleve, Joos Van (Also Known As Joos Van Der Beke)

El personaje es representado de medio cuerpo y ante un fondo oscuro. El artista tradujo de forma magistral el rostro y las manos del anciano e insistió en los detalles fisonómicos, pero materializándolos con su característico sfumato, en el que se detecta el eco de Leonardo por el que se vio influido a partir de 1520. Atribuido con anterioridad a Hans Holbein, en la actualidad se juzga de mano de

Buffoon with Books
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Buffoon with Books
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

One of the most distinguished components of Velázquez` oeuvre is his gallery of buffoons (or, as we would generally call them in English, jesters), dwarves, and other men of amusement who entertained the king of Spain and his court in idle moments. Although Velázquez was not the only artist who portrayed these entertainers, none other, either before or after, approached the subject s

The Martyrdom of Fathers John Rochester and James Walworth
Oil on canvas. 1626 - 1632
Carducho, Vicente
The Martyrdom of Fathers John Rochester and James Walworth
Oil on canvas. 1626 - 1632
Carducho, Vicente

On August 29, 1626, King Philip IV’s painter, Vicente Carducho (ca. 1576-1638), signed a contract for the creation of a cycle of paintings to celebrate the founding of the Carthusian Order by Saint Bruno and its leading members. This colossal undertaking sought to visually narrate numerous episodes from the Carthusians’ history and tradition. It was the most complete commission ever dedicated to t

The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
Oil on canvas. 1734
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
Oil on canvas. 1734
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto

The Count of Orgaz died in 1323. According to legend, Saint Augustine and Saint Stephen appeared during his burial in the church of Santo Tomé in Toledo where, supporting the Count by the head and feet respectively, the saints deposited his body in his tomb. Quite different to El Greco´s famous interpretation, the horizontal format allowed Meléndez to present an impressive, theatrica

Brígida del Río, the Bearded Lady of Peñaranda
Oil on canvas. 1590
Sánchez Cotán, Juan
Brígida del Río, the Bearded Lady of Peñaranda
Oil on canvas. 1590
Sánchez Cotán, Juan

Brígida del Río was a well-known character in the late 16th century, as indicated by the descriptions of her in various literary and visual accounts; works that reflect a para-scientific and morbid interest in natural anomalies and deviations. Bearded women were associated in the collective imagination with lust and devilry. The painting’s meticulous, detailed technique is characteri

Perejón, Buffoon of the Count of Benavente and of the Grand Duke of Alba
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1560
Mor, Anthonis
Perejón, Buffoon of the Count of Benavente and of the Grand Duke of Alba
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1560
Mor, Anthonis

The doubts that existed regarding the dating of this work were increased when the sitter was identified. He is documented from 1544 in the accounts of Prince Philip (later Philip II) as Pero Hernández de la Cruz, known as Perejón, one of the two ‘Pericos’ whose role at Court was to amuse the prince. The inventory of the Alcázar in Madrid of 1636 confirms this identification th

Herod’s Feast (sketch)
Oil on canvas. XVII century
Carreño de Miranda, Juan
Herod’s Feast (sketch)
Oil on canvas. XVII century
Carreño de Miranda, Juan

Herod and Herodias appear at the right of the composition. Sitting at a table painted in foreshortened perspective, they look on—the king with a stupefied expression—as Salome presents them with the payment for her dance: John the Baptist’s head on a platter(Mark, 6 21-29). The skillfully lit architectural background clearly recalls Venice. The other figures in the scene are standing, which contri

Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, Naked
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1680
Carreño de Miranda, Juan
Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, Naked
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1680
Carreño de Miranda, Juan

After the death of Velázquez, Carreño showed himself to be the artist most worthy of continuing the depiction of monsters, jesters, and dwarves that inhabited the Spanish court. Inventories show that the Alcázar possessed a large number of portraits of this kind by Carreño, among which are the two of the Monster, as well as others that have unfortunately disappeared. Th

Portrait of a Dwarf
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1626
Hamen y León, Juan Van Der
Portrait of a Dwarf
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1626
Hamen y León, Juan Van Der

A sumptuously dressed and armed dwarf holds a ruler´s staff, an attribute of power that cannot have corresponded to his status. He was probably one of the court buffoons, who were showered with presents and dressed in ostentatious luxury. Since the sixteenth century, portraits of these figures were quite customary, although it was Velázquez who explored this genre with singular mastery. The

Dwarf with a Dog
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1645
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y (Follower Of)
Dwarf with a Dog
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1645
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y (Follower Of)

The custom of placing the principal figure in a portrait alongside another being that was physically or socially inferior was common practice among artists who portrayed figures from the Spanish court in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Kings, queens, princes and princesses all appeared accompanied by dwarfs, children or animals in a revealing play of hierarchies. This convention exalted t

The Prudent Abigail
Oil on canvas. 1696 - 1697
Giordano, Luca
The Prudent Abigail
Oil on canvas. 1696 - 1697
Giordano, Luca

David se hallaba con sus hombres en la montaña y envió al sanguinario Nabal un destacamento para pedirle comida. Ante su negativa, David ordenó a su ejército destruir su casa. Abigail, esposa de Nabal, cargo varios asnos con vituallas y se postro ante David para solicitar su clemencia (Samuel I, 25: 2-42). La presente pintura suscita numerosos interrogantes relativos a su destino en los palacios r

The Buffoon Francisco Bazán
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1680
Carreño de Miranda, Juan
The Buffoon Francisco Bazán
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1680
Carreño de Miranda, Juan

Francisco Bazán was a buffoon at the court of Charles II between 1676 and 1689. Carreño, who was reaching the end of his career when he painted this work, depicts the sitter as if delivering a note. The composition and way of inserting the figure into the pictorial space recall Velázquez’s portrait of Pablo de Valladolid.

The Buffoon El Primo
Oil on canvas. 1644
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
The Buffoon El Primo
Oil on canvas. 1644
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

The chromatic complexity, fluid brushstroke, location of the sitter in an undefined space and his direct gaze make this one of the portraits of dwarves by Velázquez that most directly connects with the viewer. Traditionally thought to depict Sebastián de Morra, the subject has recently been identified as the court buffoon El Primo who accompanied Philip IV to Aragon in 1644 where Vel

The Finding of Moses
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1580
Veronese, Paolo (Paolo Cagliari)
The Finding of Moses
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1580
Veronese, Paolo (Paolo Cagliari)

This scene from the Old Testament (Exodus II, 5-6) depicts the moment when the Pharaoh´s daughter and her ladies-in-waiting remove from the Nile River the basket in which baby Moses was placed by his Hebrew mother in order to save him from the slaughter of boy children ordered by that ruler. Outside the biblical text, Veronese has included a dwarf in the scene. Dwarves were often present at sixtee

The Strolling Players
Oil on tin plate. 1793
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
The Strolling Players
Oil on tin plate. 1793
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de

This popular scene painted with great technical freedom shows an improvised stage surrounded by people in the midst of a landscape. The piece being played is a satire from the Italian Commedia dell´ Arte. The main characters appear on stage: Arlecchino, Columbina and Pantalone. A poster at the front of the stage reads “Alec Men” (“Menandrian Allegory”). This work belonged to a series of twel

The Wine of Saint Martin's Day
Glue-size on twill / twill weave canvas. 1566 - 1567
Bruegel The Elder, Pieter
The Wine of Saint Martin's Day
Glue-size on twill / twill weave canvas. 1566 - 1567
Bruegel The Elder, Pieter

Practically unknown until now, the present canvas has only been mentioned and reproduced in an article by Matías Díaz Padrón, former curator at the Prado, that was published in Archivo Español de Arte in 1980. The author, who had not seen the painting at first hand, attributed it to Pieter Brueghel the Younger.The canvas depicts the Saint Martin`s Day wine festival. The

Watching the Hunt in Aranjuez
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Martínez del Mazo, Juan Bautista
Watching the Hunt in Aranjuez
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Martínez del Mazo, Juan Bautista

Aranjuez, some 40 kilometres from Madrid, was one of the so-called royal residences (Sitios Reales) all situated within a radius of less than 80 kilometres from the capital that were intended for the relaxation of the king and his court. Aranjuez´s location on the shores of the Tajo River, amid fertile countryside, led Philip II to construct a palace that was gradually expanded by his successors,

Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz
Oil on canvas. 1585 - 1588
Sánchez Coello, Alonso
Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz
Oil on canvas. 1585 - 1588
Sánchez Coello, Alonso

Alonso Sánchez Coello was court painter to Philip II and he united two different pictorial styles developed in the mid sixteenth century by Titian and Anthonis Mor respectively. Sánchez Coello´s images are austere in their presentation, yet they include certain symbolic elements that place the sitters in a suitable context easily legible to the viewer. The sitters´ dress and certain

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