Equestrian Portrait of the Count-Duke of Olivares

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Equestrian Portrait of Count Duke of Olivares
Count-Duke of Olivares.jpg
Artist Diego Velázquez
Year 1634
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 313 cm × 239 cm (123 in × 94 in)
Location Museo del Prado, Madrid

Gaspar de Guzman, Count-Duke of Olivares, riding is an oil on canvas of Spanish Diego Velázquez, made around the year 1636.1 It is in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since its inauguration in 1819.

The object of the work was to portray valid power of King Philip IV Gaspar de Guzman, a Spanish nobleman and influential politician, Count of Olivares and Duke of Sanlúcar la Mayor, known as the Count-Duke of Olivares. In the style of Velázquez, this painting is an exception, as its design and color are more motivated and pompous than usual in the portraits of the artist, more sober.

Olivares is portrayed on horseback, an honor usually reserved for monarchs and reflects the power that reached as valid or right hand of the king (equivalent to the current prime minister's office). The picture resembles equestrian portraits Velázquez had painted for the Hall of Realms of the Buen Retiro Palace, but was not made for this series, but as a particular custom Olivares, bound for home. It is not dated but stands at just after this series, around 1638, and possibly painted after the battle of Fuenterrabía, a military success that was attributed Olivares, although he was not personally involved. The picture did not join the royal collection, predecessor of the Prado Museum until a century later.

The Count-Duke looks at the viewer, making sure witness his feat. The figure is viewed from a low viewpoint and his torso is turned back, it looks more slender; Olivares was massive body and rather clumsy, as seen in the portraits that Velazquez had done before. The horse raises its front legs, performing a somersault or levade, look toward the battlefield drawing a diagonal from the hills that can be seen in the landscape, composition provides energy to portraiture and for his dynamism, reminds Rubens. This scheme equestrian portrait differs from those made for the royal family, and is believed to have been suggested by Olivares; Velazquez had to take particular care, as Olivares was the highest political office of the court (after the king) and had supported him in his early days as a painter in Madrid.

Noble wears a wide-brimmed feathered hat and the band of the State; the hand holds a marshal's baton with which marks the direction of the battle. The shell that looks is possibly preserved in the Palace of Liria of Madrid (collection of the House of Alba).

The rich chromaticism and treatment of light give the scene a great vitality.

The battle in the distance is treated with small spots. The landscape is very schematic, as defined Velázquez no buildings or characters. Perhaps it is because the painter did not know the town of Hondarribia, where the battle happened as described, although other sources believe did not refer to any particular battle. The hills fade in green and blue tones, providing feeling of remoteness; for it is said to have a very sharp aerial perspective.

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External links[edit]

  • Velázquez , exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on this portrait (see index)
  • [1]