lunes, 26 de octubre de 2015


This fall, the Meadows Museum welcomes the magnificent portrait of Philip IV (1623-28), by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660). This is the third loan from the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid that comes to Dallas as part of the groundbreaking three-year partnership between the Meadows Museum, SMU, and the Spanish institution. The exhibition, organized by guest curator Dr. Javier Portús, Senior Curator of Spanish Painting at the Prado, will also include a selection of early portraits by Velázquez from other collections, and will offer visitors the unique opportunity to view the Meadows’s own Portrait of King Philip IV (1623-24), by Velázquez, within the context of other early works by the Spanish master.

Velázquez painted his first portrait of Philip IV in 1623, when the artist was only twenty-four years old. The painting was so well received at court that it assured him his appointment as royal painter to the Spanish king. According to Velázquez’s father-inlaw, art theorist Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644), because of the portrait’s success, the artist was given the exclusive right to portray the king. Many scholars have considered the possibility that the Meadows’s Portrait of King Philip IV is this first portrait of the king by Velázquez, after which he modeled subsequent portraits, among these the underlying image in the Prado’s Philip IV.

In his first royal portraits, Velázquez followed the established Spanish Habsburg portrait tradition that favored “icon-like” images with highly finished and detailed surfaces. But before long, he developed his own portrait style and surpassed these conventions by creating new prototypes that influenced the official imagery of the Spanish kings throughout the seventeenth century. In his portraits, Velázquez went beyond the distant representations of royals and courtiers, and approached the inner self of his subjects. His solemn and psychological representations evoked an air of modernity unseen before, which soon translated into technical inventiveness marked by vigorous brushstrokes and an extraordinary economy of means.

The centerpiece of the exhibition, the Prado’s portrait Philip IV, is a quintessential work within Velázquez’s oeuvre because the wealth of information it provides allows for a better understanding of the artist’s creative process. Radiographs taken from the Prado’s portrait in 1960 confirmed what was already slightly visible to the naked eye: at some point, for reasons still unknown, Velázquez reworked the original portrait painted for the king, and achieved a likeness that preserved the characteristic Habsburg pronounced chin, which had been largely concealed in the earlier image. In the revised painting, Velázquez achieves a more elegant composition by determined only after undergoing in-depth analyses and comparison against other authentic works, such as the Meadows’s Portrait of King Philip IV.

This exhibition and project have been organized by the Meadows Museum and the Museo Nacional del Prado, and are funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanitie

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