- Inventory number
- Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
- Felipe IV on Horseback
- 1634 - 1635
- 303 cm x 317 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (Royal Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1701, [n. 248]; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “paso de tribuna y trascuartos”, 1772, n. 248; Royal Palace, Madrid, “pieza de comer”, 1814-1818, n. 248)
The son of Felipe III (1578-1621) and Margarita de Austria (1584-1611), Felipe IV was born in 1605 and died in 1665.
This work is considered completely by Velázquez's hand and presents a personal reflection on a genre that had great prestige in the court: equestrian portraiture. It is quite probable that Velázquez drew on examples by Titian —Carlos V at the Battle of Mühlberg (P00410)— and Rubens when he began the present work.
Velázquez eschews all rhetoric here, focusing on transmitting what is essential: an image of the King armed as a general, who confidently dominates the impetus of his rearing horse and is thus able to bear the reins of his State and of his own character with a firm hand. His upright posture and firm gesture add to the sense of majesty.
Proof of the artist's care in making this portrait are the corrections —pentimenti— visible on the king's head, bust and leg, and on the horse's back legs and tail.
This painting hung on one of the smaller sides of the Salón de Reinos at Madrid's Buen Retiro Palace, where it was paired with Queen Isabel de Borbón on Horseback (P01179). It is listed in the inventories of Madrid's Royal Palace from 1734 to 1814 and entered the Prado Museum collection in 1819.