Inventory number
P01181
Author
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Title
Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, on Horseback
Chronology
ca. 1636
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimensions
313 cm x 239 cm
School
Spanish
Theme
Portrait
On display
Yes
Provenance
Royal Collection (Collection of the Marquis of La Ensenada, Madrid; acquisition of Carlos III, Madrid, 1768; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “paso de tribuna y trascuartos”, 1772, s. n.; Royal Palace, Madrid, “pieza de comer”, 1814-1818, s.n.)

Felipe IV's favorite is depicted in half armor, hat, and a general's sash and flare, denoting his status as chief of the Spanish armies. Near the horizon of a broad landscape, a plume of smoke indicates a battle.

This is an especially propagandistic portrait. Olivares is shown on a rearing horse, which is a position traditionally reserved for the most powerful and is a clear symbol of power and command. The horse's agitation contrasts with the figure, who turns, casting his arrogant gaze on the viewer.

The empty cartouche in the lower corner unavoidably marks Velasquez's authorship, as does the use of large, rapid and compact brushstrokes to form large areas of warm colors. The composition is derived from an engraving of Julius Cesar by Antonio Tempesta that was often used by baroque painters.

This work remained in private hands until Carlos III acquired the property of the Marquis of la Ensenada in 1769.

 
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