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Portrait of Queen Mariana

c. 1656
Oil on canvas
18 3/8 x 17 1/8 in. (46.7 x 43.5 cm)
Century: 17th Century
Credit Line: Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Algur H. Meadows Collection, MM.78.01
Accession Number: MM.78.01

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To meet the demand for official portraits of the royal family, Diego Velázquez’s usual practice was to make a likeness of the head painted rapidly from life as the model for more finished images. Several of these paintings survive, such as this exceptionally sensitive portrait of the young Queen Mariana. This portrait of the queen, with its bravura handling and barely sketched costume, was obviously painted to record the change in the Queen’s hairstyle, which was also designed by the painter himself. Several larger portraits, works believed to have been made by workshop assistants, derive from it, including those in the collections of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (currently on deposit at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona); the Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid; and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida.
Mariana of Austria was only fourteen years old when she became the second wife of Philip IV in 1649; she ruled as regent from Philip’s death in 1665 until 1675, when her son Charles II (r. 1665–1700) was declared competent to rule. Painted at approximately the same date as Velázquez’s Las Meninas, the young queen is depicted at about age twenty-one. The artist’s light touch and evocative brushwork capture with unparalleled sensitivity the sober, youthful features beneath the queen’s heavy wig and rouge.


(Wildenstein & Co., Paris). Maurice Rothschild, Paris [by 1925]; confiscated by the Nazi ERR in Paris from Rothschild Collection, inventory nos. R 338. Restituted by French government to Maurice de Rothschild [29 October 1946]. Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Chateau Pregny, Geneva; (P. and D. Colnaghi and Co., Ltd., London [1978]); acquired by Meadows Museum, Dallas [1978].

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