Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish, 15991660)
Oil on canvas; 78 3/4 x 40 1/2 in. (200 x 102.9 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.639)
Velázquez was paid for this noble portrait of King Philip IV of Spain on December 4, 1624. Velázquez had arrived in Madrid in the summer of 1623 and was made painter to the king that August. The picture was commissioned by an important person at court, Don García Pérez de Araciel, and is an autograph repetition of the official portrait Velázquez had painted for the king; a workshop copy belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Philip is shown wearing a gold chain and the emblem of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
The hands and face (aside from the left proper eye) are in fairly good condition, but the background and costume have suffered badly. Thanks to a thorough restoration undertaken in 2010, it is now possible to appreciate the exceptionally high quality of this fully documented work by the artist.