Archive for the ‘Velázquez, Diego’ Category

When is a Velázquez a Velázquez?

October 17, 2013
The Handmaidens of the Infanta Margharita in the Household of Philip IV, known as 'Las meniñas', thought to be by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, after Diego Velázquez, at Kingston Lacy, Dorset. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Handmaidens of the Infanta Margharita in the Household of Philip IV, known as ‘Las meninas’, thought to be by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, after Diego Velázquez, at Kingston Lacy, Dorset. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Reattributions of paintings by or in the style of well-known masters tend to cause a stir, as we saw in the case of the self-portrait attributed to Rembrandt at Buckland Abbey. It is no different with the recent claim that the version of Las meninas in the collection at Kingston Lacy is by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) himself, rather than by his son-in-law Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (1612/16-67).

The Handmaidens of the Infanta Margharita in the Household of Philip IV, known as 'Las meniñas', by Diego Velázquez, at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. © Museo Nacional del Prado

The Handmaidens of the Infanta Margharita in the Household of Philip IV, known as ‘Las meninas’, by Diego Velázquez, at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. © Museo Nacional del Prado

The prime version of this famously enigmatic painting hangs in the Prado in Madrid. The museum has put on an important Velázquez exhibition which includes both the Prado and the Kingston Lacy Las meninas.

Prince Balthasar Carlos as a hunter, by Diego Velázquez, at Ickworth, Suffolk. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Prince Balthasar Carlos as a hunter, by Diego Velázquez, at Ickworth, Suffolk. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

However, as reported in The Guardian newspaper and elsewhere, art historian Dr Matías Díaz Padrón has just given a lecture at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes in Madrid in which he reattributes the Kingston Lacy version to the master himself. He suggests that it is a first draft or sketch for the Prado version, and that the colours in both pictures are typical of the artist.

Cardinal Camillo Massimi, by Diego Velázquez, at Kingston Lacy. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

Cardinal Camillo Massimi, by Diego Velázquez, at Kingston Lacy. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

The Kingston Lacy meninas was thought to be an original Velázquez in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and its status was only changed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was in the collection of Gaspar de Haro, 7th Marquess of Carpio and 2nd Duke of Montoro (1629-87, who also owned the picture by Velázquez now known as the Rokeby Venus) and was purchased and brought to Kingston Lacy by William Bankes (1786-1855).

The Spanish Room at Kingston Lacy, where the version of Las meniñas normally hangs. ©National Trust Images/Richard Pink

The Spanish Room at Kingston Lacy, where the version of Las meniñas normally hangs. ©National Trust Images/Richard Pink

However, the curator of the Prado show, Javier Portús, is not convinced, and more research will be needed to support this new claim. But being able seeing the two paintings in close proximity is a good start.