VELÁZQUEZ, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y
(b. 1599, Sevilla, d. 1660, Madrid)

Infanta Doña María, Queen of Hungary

Oil on canvas, 60 x 46 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

When the Infanta Doña María, daughter of Philip III and Queen Margarita, set out for Vienna in December 1629 to meet the husband who had been chosen for her long before, the king of Hungary, later Emperor Ferdinand III, her journey included a stay of several months in Naples in 1630. Velázquez made haste to Naples to portray his sovereign's sister', who was famous for her beauty. He worked with the utmost care to emphasize the enamel-like smoothness of her fine features. Every detail, for instance the typically protuberant Habsburg lower lip, shows a striking similarity to the living model. The delicate carmine of her lips, the beautiful Titian shade of her hair, depicted in relaxed brushstrokes with dark brown shadows and bright yellow highlights, all display the artistic skill now at the command of Velázquez in his harmonious combination of state splendour with the individuality of his sitter.

The carefully modelled face in this head-and-shoulders portrait was to serve as the basis for several full-length portraits of the Infanta, workshop copies that may have been intended as gifts to royal residences abroad.