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Diego Velázquez, Philip IV of Spain

Key facts
Full title Philip IV of Spain
Artist Diego Velázquez
Artist dates 1599 - 1660
Date made about 1656
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 64.1 × 53.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1865
Inventory number NG745
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Philip IV of Spain
Diego Velázquez

Velázquez painted many portraits of Philip IV, King of Spain, throughout his reign. This is the last painted image of the King by the man who served as his court artist from 1623. He looks middle-aged, and tired: his sagging flesh and puffy eyes suggest the weight of responsibility resting on his shoulders during his long reign (1621–65). As in many of Velázquez’s portraits, Philip sports his distinctive upturned moustache.

The King’s pale face stands out against the sombre black of his clothing and the plain background. He wears the Order of the Golden Fleece, a chivalric order whose pendant took the form of a suspended sheepskin, on a gold chain. The regular waves of Philip’s hair frame his face and rest neatly on his collar. He stares out steadily with a look that commands respect but is also intensely human.

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