When this painting entered the Museum's collection in 1889, it was thought to be a self-portrait by Velázquez. Since then, both the attribution and the identification of the sitter have been questioned. A highly accomplished painting, it shows many characteristics of Velázquez's working process as well as signature marks such as the free brushstrokes in the background. To some, the execution appears tentative and the sharper range and handling of color seem atypical of the artist's core body of work. The portrait is thus often attributed to Juan Bautista del Mazo, Velázquez's son-in-law and best pupil, although its quality is finer than that of the independent works usually associated with him.
Manuel de Godoy, Prince of the Peace, Madrid (by 1808–13; bought with a portrait of the Count Duke of Olivares, for 600 guineas, by G. A. Wallis for Buchanan); [William Buchanan, London, 1813–14; sold to Lansdowne]; Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, Lansdowne House, London (1814–d. 1863); by descent to Henry Charles Keith Petty-FitzMaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, Lansdowne House (1866–88; probably sold to Agnew); [Thomas Agnew and Sons, London 1888–89; sold to Marquand]; Henry G. Marquand, New York (1889)
London. British Institution. 1867, no. 55 (as a self-portrait by Velázquez, lent by the Marquess of Lansdowne).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," 1877, no. 101 (as a self-portrait by Velázquez, lent by the Marquis of Lansdowne).
Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Spanish Painting, XVII–XX Centuries," January 4–27, 1963, no catalogue?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Velázquez Rediscovered," November 17, 2009–February 7, 2010, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Velázquez Portraits: Truth in Painting," November 4, 2016–March 14, 2017, no catalogue.
W[illiam]. Buchanan. Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution. London, 1824, vol. 2, p. 244, no. 8, calls it a self-portrait by Velázquez, companion to a portrait of the Count Duke of Olivares, and lists it among pictures purchased by George Augustus Wallis in Spain in 1813, from the collection of the Prince of Peace.
G[ustav]. F[riedrich]. Waagen. Works of Art and Artists in England. London, 1838, vol. 2, p. 265, describes it as a self-portrait by Velázquez at Lansdowne House, London.
G[ustav]. F[riedrich]. Waagen. Kunstwerke und Künstler in England und Paris. Vol. 2, Kunstwerke und Künstler in England. Berlin, 1838, p. 77.
Mrs. Jameson. Companion to the Most Celebrated Private Galleries of Art in London. London, 1844, pp. 290, 312, no. 56, refers to it as a self-portrait by Velázquez at Lansdowne House.
J. J. A. Bristead. Manuscript catalogue of Spanish paintings. 1870–75, p. 31, attributes it to Velázquez.
Charles B. Curtis. Velazquez and Murillo. London, 1883, pp. 82–83, no. 201, attributes it to Velázquez and states that "this picture is different from any other known to the writer. The features, however, seem to resemble those of Velazquez.".
Paul Lefort. Velazquez. Paris, 1888, p. 148, calls it a self-portrait by Velázquez.
Carl Justi. Diego Velázquez and His Times. London, 1889, pp. 426–27, discusses it as a fine portrait of an unknown Spanish cavalier, previously thought to be a self-portrait painted by Velázquez; remarks that it is "executed in his second manner" and exhibits some resemblance to the artist, though more in the glance than in the features.
Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1905, p. 176, no. 270, lists it as a self-portrait by Velázquez.
R. A. M. Stevenson. Velasquez. London, 1906, p. 138, considers it a self-portrait by Velázquez.
Bryson Burroughs. Catalogue of Paintings. 1st ed. New York, 1914, p. 270, calls it a portrait of Velázquez from his school.
August L. Mayer. Velazquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Pictures and Drawings. London, 1936, p. 90, no. 386, pl. 121, refers to it as a studio copy of a lost original (no. 385, "Portrait of a Young Man", dated around 1632–36) for which he gives no provenance; mentions having seen another version in 1935 in the possession of D. Apolinar Sánchez, Madrid.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 239–40, ill., calls it "Portrait of Velázquez (?)" from his workshop; believes it shows the same subject as the portrait of a man in the Museo Capitolino, Rome, which he suggests may also be a self-portrait, perhaps the one in Pacheco's collection [see Ref. López-Rey 1963, no. 484].
Bernardino de Pantorba. La vida y la obra de Velázquez: Estudio biográfico y crítico. Madrid, 1955, p. 252, no. 386, calls it "Portrait of a Young Man. Portrait of Velázquez?"; regards this picture as a self-portrait by Velázquez based upon its resemblance to the portrait of a man at the Museo Capitolino, which he considers a self-portrait.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 329, no. 2900, attributes it to Velázquez's workshop; doubts the sitter is Velázquez.
José López-Rey. Velázquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of His Oeuvre. London, 1963, p. 317, no. 570, pl. 291, calls it "Portrait of a Young Man" and views it as an "extraordinarily fine" work by a student or close follower of Velázquez whose "sense of colouring... differs vividly from the Master's, particularly in the flesh tones".
José Camón Aznar. Velázquez. Madrid, 1964, vol. 2, pp. 681, 687, ill., repeats Mayer's [Ref. 1936] opinion that it is a copy of a lost original by Velázquez; describes it as a forceful portrait of a noble gentleman.
P.M. Bardi. L'opera completa di Velázquez. Milan, 1969, p. 111, no. 144, ill., lists it with "Altre opere attribuite a Velàzquez" and observes that the coloring differs from Velázquez.
Marcus B. Burke. Memo to files. 1976, notes that an "attribution of this painting to Mazo would not be without foundation".
María Angeles Mazón de la Torre. Jusepe Leonardo y su tiempo. Saragossa, 1977, p. 195 n. 524, compares it compositionally to the "Head of a Man" (MMA 29.100.607) which she attributes to Jusepe Leonardo.
Nina Ayala Mallory. "Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo: Retratos y paisajes." Goya (March–April 1991), pp. 266–67, fig. 4, regards it as a possible self-portrait by Mazo dating from around 1650 and sees it as painted in clear emulation of Velázquez, particularly in the dense passages of brushwork that define the face with vivid expression and the illusion of reality.
Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Letter to Dulce Roman. April 27, 1997, believes that an attribution to Mazo is possible, and notes that Mazo's technique is similar to that of Velázquez, although less finished ("deshecha").
Carlos Solano Oropesa and Juan Carlos Solano Herranz. Juan Bauptta Martínez del Maço: Pintor de cámara de Felipe IV, yerno de Velázquez y conquense. Cuenca, Ecuador, 2004, pp. 100–101, ill. frontispiece and fig. 08, attribute it to Mazo, date it about 1650, and call it a possible self-portrait.
Jason Farago. "An Infinite World Captured In a Handful of Portraits." New York Times (January 13, 2017), p. C25.
Jonathan Brown. "A Proposal on Attribution: Jonathan Brown on Velázquez Portraits at the Metropolitan." Art Newspaper. February 24, 2017, ill. (color) [http://theartnewspaper.com/comment/reviews/exhibitions/a-proposal-on-attribution-jonathan-brown-on-vel-zquez-portraits-at-the-metropolitan], suggests that this work and the "Peasant Girl" (private collection), also exhibited in this show, are by Juan de Pareja.
Regarded in the nineteenth century as a self-portrait by Velázquez, this picture is now considered the work of a close follower, possibly Juan Batista Martínez del Mazo. Mayer (1936) and others have suggested it may be a copy after a lost original by Velázquez. Contemporary sources mention the existence of at least one self-portrait. These early references include: a self-portrait in the collection of Francisco Pacheco, painted in Rome, 1630, in the manner of Titian (see Pacheco's 1638 manuscript, Arte de la pintura, 1956 ed., vol. 1, p. 160; vol. 2, p. 154; and López-Rey 1963, no. 174); "a half-length portrait of the painter Velázquez, by his own hand" in the 1655 inventory of the collection of the Marqués de Leganés; and "a portrait of Diego Velázquez, with the costume not yet finished" listed in the inventory of Velázquez's possessions drawn up at the time of his death (for both, see Gómez Moreno, in Varia velazqueña, 1960, vol. 1, p. 691; vol. 2, p. 399; and López-Rey 1963, nos. 174, 175). López-Rey (1963, no. 176) lists only one surviving, credible self-portrait in the Museo de Bellas Artes, Valencia. Gudiol [Connoisseur 159 (1965), pp. 165–67] adds to the Valencia example portraits in the Bic collection, Paris, and the Uffizi, Florence. Most scholars, however, agree that the only extant self-portrait of Velázquez is the one he included in Las Meninas (Prado, Madrid).