Inventory number
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
The Buffoon called "Juan de Austria"
Ca. 1632
210 cm x 123 cm
On display
Colección Real (Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1701, s.n.; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, antecámara de la serenísima infanta, 1772, nº 611; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, cuarto del príncipe, 1794, nº 611; Palacio Real, Madrid, cuarto del príncipe-cámara, 1814-1818, nº 611; Real Academia de BBAA de San Fernando, Madrid, 1816-1827).

The buffoon called "Juan de Austria", is documented as being in the court of Felipe IV (1605-1665) between 1624 and 1654. His real name is unknown, but he adopted that of the illegitimate son of Emperor Carlos V (1500-1558), Juan de Austria (1545-1578), who vanquished the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto (1571).

Velázquez paints him wearing the general's uniform he was given in keeping with the nickname by which he was known at the palace. The naval battle depicted in the background is an allusion to Lepanto.

The great modernity of the practically abstract scene in the background shows the freedom and experimentation Velázquez employed in works not directly related to court noblemen or members of the Royal Family.

This work was probably paired with The Buffoon "Redbeard", Cristóbal de Castañeda y Pernía (P01199), which is also in the Prado Museum collection.

The canvas is documented between 1634 and 1654 in the inventories of Madrid's Alcázar Palace, between 1701 and 1716 at the Buen Retiro Palace, in 1772 at the New Palace, and in 1816 at the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts of San Fernando. It entered the Prado Museum in 1827.

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