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Oil painting - Infanta Margarita
  • Infanta Margarita
    Robles Martinez, José, born 1843 - died 1911
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Infanta Margarita

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    late 19th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robles Martinez, José, born 1843 - died 1911 (painter (artist))
    Martínez del Mazo, Juan Bautista, born 1613 - died 1667

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:

    337-1866

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (1613-1667) was probably born in Cuenca and married in 1633 the daughter of Diego Velazquez, Francisca, which suggests that he was already Velazquez' apprentice before this date. Velázquez arranged for Philip IV to appoint Mazo as 'Ujier de Cámara' in 1634 and after his death in 1660, Mazo succeeded him as Pintor de Cámara. He chiefly produced state portraits in the same manner as his master Velazquez but also landscapes paintings with small figures that look more personal in style.

This painting is a copy after the portrait of the Infanta Margarita, daughter of Philip IV of Spain, formerly attributed to Velazquez but currently given to his son-in-law, Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo. It shows the Princess in a lavish Baroque dress that reflects the fashion of the Madrid court during the second half of the 17th century. This portrait was probably executed to record the appearance of the Princess and be sent over to her future husband, Leopold I of Austria. The copy dates from the late 19th century and was probably made for training purposes.

Physical description

Full-length portrait of a young lady wearing a lavish Baroque dress and standing before imposing red velvet curtains.

Date

late 19th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Robles Martinez, José, born 1843 - died 1911 (painter (artist))
Martínez del Mazo, Juan Bautista, born 1613 - died 1667

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 56 cm estimate, Width: 38 cm estimate

Object history note

Purchased, 1866

Historical significance: This painting is a reduced copy after the Portrait of Infanta Margarita (212 x 147 cm) formerly attributed to Velazquez and currently catalogued as by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo but may result from a collaboration between the two painters (Prado, Madrid-P01192). In fact, another version, held in the Kunsthistorisches, Vienna (GG_3531), was executed by both Velazquez and Mazo.
The painting depicts the Infanta Margarita (1651-1731) at the age of fifteen. She was the daughter of the King of Spain, Philip IV (1605-1665), and Mariana of Austria (1634-1696). The Infant poses here in a sumptuous Baroque dress, typical of the fashion of the Madrid court during the second half of the 17th century, which is considered to be the Golden Age of the Spanish reign. Velazquez executed many portraits of the Infant at various stages of her childhood (See Kunsthistorisches, Vienna; Louvre, Paris and Prado, Madrid), probably to keep her cousin Leopold I of Austria (1650-1705) apprised on her account. For political reasons in fact, she was betrothed at a young age to her cousin Leopold.
The Infant Margarita appears also as the central figure of perhaps the most celebrated composition by Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656 (Prado, Madrid-P01174).
The copy however failed in reproducing the intense effect of light and the vibrant rendering of the different textiles displayed in this composition (velvet, silk, …), which Velazquez and subsequently Mazo probably drew upon Flemish examples. Jose Robles Martinez (1843-1911) was best known for his compositions of genre scenes close to the orientalist aesthetic. He may therefore have produced this copy for training purposes.

Historical context note

In his encyclopaedic work, Historia Naturalis, the ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder described the origins of painting in the outlining of a man's projected shadow in profile. In the ancient period, profile portraits were found primarily in imperial coins. With the rediscovery and the increasing interest in the Antique during the early Renaissance, artists and craftsmen looked back to this ancient tradition and created medals with profile portraits on the obverse and personal devise on the reverse in order to commemorate and celebrate the sitter. Over time these profile portraits were also depicted on panels and canvas, and progressively evolved towards three-quarter and eventually frontal portraits.
These portraits differ in many ways from the notion of portraiture commonly held today as they especially aimed to represent an idealised image of the sitter and reflect therefore a different conception of identity. The sitter's likeness was more or less recognisable but his particular status and familiar role were represented in his garments and attributes referring to his character. The 16th century especially developed the ideal of metaphorical and visual attributes through the elaboration of highly complex portrait paintings in many formats including at the end of the century full-length portraiture. In Spain, portraiture developed considerably under the impact of Velázquez' art probably influenced by earlier Flemish examples such as Rubens (1577-1640) and Van Dyck (1599-1641).
Portrait paintings were still fashionable during the following centuries and extended to the rising bourgeoisie and eventually to common people, especially during the social and political transformations of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century, painted portraits were challenged and eventually supplanted by the development of new media such as photography.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Infanta Margarita', José Robles Martinez after Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, late 19th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 286-287, cat. no. 355.
J. F. Riaño, Catalogue of the art objects of Spanish production in the South Kensington Museum, 1872, p. 70.

Production Note

Formerly attributed to Velzquez, the portrait of the Infanta Margarita is now believed to be by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo.

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Dress; Velvet; Curtains; Silk

Categories

Paintings; Portraits

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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