VELÁZQUEZ, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y
(b. 1599, Sevilla, d. 1660, Madrid)
Philip IV in Brown and Silver1631-32
Oil on canvas, 200 x 113 cm
National Gallery, London
In this painting the restriction of surrounding areas and the general pose found in earlier portraits of the king are still present, but the subject's whole attitude is more relaxed, the flesh tints, probably under the influence of Rubens, are painted with more fluidity, the accents of colour - eyes gleaming like black tortoiseshell, the golden lights on the waves of the hair - are placed with more emphasis, and shapes conveying Baroque dignity, such as the profuse folds of the red curtain, have made their way into the formerly sparse interior. Above all, Velázquez's new delight in luxuriant colour is reflected in his depiction of the silk embroidery and the silver and brown tones of the king's clothing.
The king is holding in his right hand a paper with the inscription "Senor/Diego Velázquez/ Pintor de V. Mg" - the opening words of a petition to him from Velázquez.
The unattractive matt white of the stockings is the result of an unskilful restoration of the picture in 1936, but otherwise the work is a good example of the skilled manner that Velázquez had now mastered.