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

Portrait of Don Gaspar de Guzman y Pimentel, Count-Duke of Olivares

c. 1638
Oil on canvas, 67 x 55 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The sitter of the portrait was the prime minister of Philip IV. He began his career with a dizzying rise and ended it with a no-less-vertiginous fall, spending his last years in exile. When his star was ascending he introduced the young Velázquez to the king, and the artist painted his powerful patron several times. In the present portrait, made shortly before Olivares suffered a series of defeats in both his foreign policy projects and court intrigues, his face clearly betrays fatigue and disillusionment.