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Prince Baltasar Carlos, Aged Six, as a Hunter

Diego Velázquez (Seville 1599 - Madrid 1660)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1635 - 1636

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

1537 x 902 mm

Place of origin

Spain

Order this image

Collection

Ickworth, Suffolk

NT 851780

Caption

This portrait of a six-year-old boy wearing simple hunting clothes shows Prince Baltasar Carlos (1629–46), heir to the throne of Spain. He stands holding his gun with three dogs at his side: the two greyhounds are alert and upright, while the large brown-and-white hound (identified as a partridge dog) snoozes on the ground. This is one of a number of paintings of the prince by Spanish court artist and master of portraiture Diego Velázquez (1599–1660). Here he creates a scene that presents the young Baltasar in the role of a huntsman, in command of the forces of nature. The picture was designed to hang at a royal hunting lodge, where only the nobility was admitted. Tragically, the prince was to die young, at the age of 16, crushing the hopes of his parents, King Philip IV of Spain (1605–65) and Elizabeth of Bourbon (1602–44).

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Prince Baltasar Carlos, Aged Six, as a Hunter, by Diego Velázquez (Seville 1599 - Madrid 1660), 1635-1636. A full-length portrait of a young boy, Prince Balthasar Carlos (1629-46), in hunting costume, turned to the left, gazing at the spectator, standing against a wintry landscape in the Sierra de Guadarrama. He supports a musket in the right hand, and wears a dark brown cap over short light brown hair, doublet and breeches, with black and silver sleeves, white lace collar, pale fawn gloves and boots. A partridge-dog lies by the Prince’s feet at left and at right sit two Spanish greyhounds, the second half visible.

Full description

Prince Baltasar Carlos was the only and cherished son of Philip IV of Spain by his first marriage to Elisabeth of France (Isabel de Borbón). He was painted at every age and in a variety of guises by Velázquez: here aged six, as a sportsman, in the snowy hunting ranges of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The young prince, gazing confidently at the viewer, grasps an upright blunderbuss in the company of a slumbering partridge dog and two sprightly Spanish greyhounds. This picture is often mistaken as a copy of an almost identical portrait in the Prado (inv.no. P001189), which was painted for the royal hunting lodge, the Torre de la Parada in the grounds of El Pardo, between 1634 and 1636. Ickworth’s is in fact an autonomous variant of, if not a prototype for, the Prado picture, the chief difference between the two being one of scale (NT 851780, H 153.7 x W 90.2 cm; P001189 H 191 x W 103 cm). The Prado’s is of exceptional size for a whole-length portrait of a child, as it was intended to hang in the Torre de la Parada alongside portraits of the Prince’s father, Philip IV (P001184), and his uncle, the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria (P001186). A distinct feature of this set is simplicity. The sitters' dress is plain, their guns functional, not elaborately decorated, and there are no boastful mounds of game. Whereas in a more public palace it might have been necessary or appropriate to display regality in richly costumed portraits, the total exclusivity of the Torre de la Parada was such that only the royal family and nobles of the highest rank would see these pictures. There was simply no need for pomp. A second difference between the Ickworth and Prado pictures is the relative number of dogs. There are three in Ickworth’s: a partridge dog, and two Spanish greyhounds, or galguillos, gifts from the Cardinal-Infante to Baltasar Carlos, acquired from Lombardy in 1633. There is only one greyhound in the Prado version, and no evidence to suggest the canvas was cut down to cut out a second dog. Indeed, the dimensions of the Prado picture suggest that only one galguillo was ever intended. The present picture also has visible pentimenti – traces of earlier images or strokes painted over – in the shape of the cap, the bottom left-hand corner of the tabard, and in the placing of the Prince’s left leg and foot. As the Prado picture has only one pentimento, the adjustments made to Ickworth’s suggest that Velázquez was still in the process of working out the figure. How the present portrait came from the Spanish Royal Collection to the Herveys at Ickworth is uncertain. It is first certainly recorded in 1837, which suggests that it was sourced in either of two ways. The first: that it was one of the many pictures looted from Spanish palaces and religious houses by Joseph Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon Bonaparte and King of Spain 1808-13); the second: that the picture was acquired in Madrid by Lord William Hervey (1805-50), who was Secretary to the Legation in Madrid between 1830 and 1840. If the picture had been seized by Joseph Bonaparte, it would have enabled Frederick William, 5th Earl and 1st Marquess of Bristol (1769-1859), to acquire it subsequently in Paris in the 1820s – just as he did Flaxman's great marble group of The Fury of Athamas (1790-94), which had been commissioned in Italy by his father, the Earl-Bishop, but then confiscated by Napoleon. It is less likely that the picture was acquired in Madrid: a Velázquez would probably have outstripped the resources of the young William Hervey and he was too junior in the embassy to have been given one by the King. Moreover, Hervey was to have a family and descendants who would have inherited the picture, unless - and there is no evidence of his having done so - he was acting as his father's agent in the matter of picture-purchases.

Provenance

By descent in Spanish Royal Collections; acquired, possibly in France, by Frederick William Hervey, 5th Earl & 1st Marquess of Bristol (1769-1859); first recorded in an undated list in the Marquess's hand, drawn up around 1837; thence by descent, until surrendered with Ickworth and its contents to HM Treasury, in lieu of the death duty payable on the estate of the 4th Marquess (1863-1951) in 1956; loaned to the National Trust in 1956 under the auspices of the National Land Fund, later the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and then transferred to the National Trust in 1983.

Makers and roles

Diego Velázquez (Seville 1599 - Madrid 1660), artist

Exhibition history

In Trust for the Nation, National Gallery, London, 1995 - 1996, no.50

References

Beruete 1906 Aureliano de Beruete, Velazquez, (revised edition translated by Hugh E. Poynter), 1906, p. 57 Calvert & Hartley 1908 A.F. Calvert & C.G. Hartley, Velazquez, 1908, p. 215, no. 157 Farrer 1908 Edmund Farrer, Portraits in Suffolk Houses (West), 1908, no. 4 Loga 1913 Valerian von Loga, Velazquez, Stuttgart, 1913, p. 81 Stevenson 1914: R.A.M.Stevenson, Velasquez, London 1914, p. 134 Allende-Salazar 1925 Juan Allende-Salazar, Velasquez, Berlin and Leipzig, 1925, pl. on p. 177 and p. 284 Meyer 1936 August L. Meyer, Velazquez: A Catalogue Raisonée of the Pictures and Drawings, 1936, p.65, no.272 Lopez-Rey 1963 José Lopez-Rey, Velazquez: A Catalogue Raisonée of his Oeuvre, 1963, pp. 70-72, 267, no.306, pl.299 Camon Aznar 1964 Jose Camon Aznar, Velázquez, Madrid, 2 vols, 1950 (revised edition 1970), I, p. 564, pl. on p. 565 Pantorba 1964 Bernardino de Pantorba, Tutta la Pittura de Velazquez, Milan, 1964, p. 55 Gore 1964: F. St John Gore, 'An English family at home and abroad: the pictures at Ickworth House, Suffolk', Country Life, 3 December 1964, pp. 1508-13 Gore 1964: F. St John Gore, 'An English family at home and abroad: the pictures at Ickworth House, Suffolk', Country Life, 10th December 1964, pp. 1654-6 Bardi 1969 P.M. Bardi, Toute l’oeuvre peint de Velazquez, Paris, 1969, p.96, no. 63A. Ford 1974: Brinsley Ford, 'The Earl Bishop: an eccentric and capricious patron of the arts', Apollo 99, June (1974): pp. 426-34 Brown 1986 Jonathan Brown, Velázquez: Painter and Courtier, New Haven, 1986, p.138, pl.160. Velázquez, exh. cat., (Antonio Domínguez Ortiz, Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez and Julián Gállego eds.), Metropolitan Museum, New York 1989 & Museo del Prado, Madrid 1990 , pp. 176, 280.

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