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Diego Velázquez - King Philip IV of Spain, 1628-1629

Diego Velázquez (Seville, 1599 - 1660, Madrid)

King Philip IV of Spain, 1628-1629

Oil on canvas , 201.2 x 109.5 cm (79 3/16 x 43 1/8 in.)


The Gardner portrait of Philip IV of Spain is a version of the famous portrait in the Prado, Madrid, and is one in a series Velázquez painted of the King after the artist's appointment to the court in 1623. The Prado portrait was painted around 1628 and the Gardner version shortly thereafter. Remarkably, the Prado picture as we see it today represents a complete reworking of the canvas covering an earlier portrait of the King painted in 1623. A copy of that first version, also by Velázquez and now in the Metropolitan Museum, shows Philip IV in a similar pose although the position of the feet is quite different and overall, his figure is stout and his cape wide in proportion. In the Gardner painting, he is slender and rendered in a more idealized form that is meant to enhance his stature as supreme ruler. Dressed in black, Philip stands in a three-quarter stance against an undefined and austere gray background. In a pose that he took during official proceedings at the court, his left hand holds the hilt of his sword and his right hand holds a partially folded note.