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Diego Velázquez, Philip IV of Spain in Brown and Silver

Key facts
Full title Philip IV of Spain in Brown and Silver
Artist Diego Velázquez
Artist dates 1599 - 1660
Date made about 1631-2
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 195 × 110 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1882
Inventory number NG1129
Location Room 30
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Philip IV of Spain in Brown and Silver
Diego Velázquez

Philip IV, King of Spain, was normally shown in fairly sombre clothing, so the unusual splendour of his costume here suggests that this work was made to celebrate something particular. In 1632, he wore a similar outfit for an important ceremony in which the Cortes of Castile pledged an oath of allegiance to his son and heir, Baltasar Carlos.

His sleeveless jacket and breeches, white silk sleeves and cloak are all richly embellished with silver thread, and his hat is decorated with delicate feathers. He wears the badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece (a prestigious chivalric order) and rests one hand on his sword. Philip appears as a young man, his impassive and assertive expression conveying his power.

We can see Velázquez’s signature on the petition Philip holds, identifying his position as court painter. The artist rarely signed his works, only those he considered important.

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