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Diego Velázquez, Portrait of Archbishop Fernando de Valdés

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Archbishop Fernando de Valdés
Artist Diego Velázquez
Artist dates 1599 - 1660
Date made 1640-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 63.5 × 59.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with a contribution from the Art Fund, 1967
Inventory number NG6380
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Hong Kong Palace Museum, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Archbishop Fernando de Valdés
Diego Velázquez

Fernando de Valdés has an imposing stare. His black cloak – an expanse of plain, heavy fabric – makes him appear larger than he really is, and a matching bishop’s hat indicates his prestigious status within the Church. His clothing and the opulent red curtain trimmed with gold, like the chair on which he sits, suggest grandeur.

In 1633 Valdés was appointed Archbishop of Granada and President of the Council of Castile, after which he became a prominent figure at the Spanish court of Philip IV. His grey beard and the dark circles under his eyes show his age – we see him during the later stages of his life and career.

Valdés died in 1639. This is probably a posthumous portrait made during the 1640s, and could be a fragment from a larger, full-length work.

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