Velázquez Portraits: Truth in Painting | THE MET

November 4, 2016–March 12, 2017

THE MET | European Paintings Galleries, Gallery 610, 2nd floor 


TR.172.2016
Young Girl | Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) (Spanish, Seville 1599–1660 Madrid) | Oil on canvas | 20 1/4 × 16 1/8 in. (51.5 × 41 cm) | On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY

Velázquez’s portraits of a young girl (ca. 1640) and of Cardinal Camillo Astalli-Pamphili (ca. 1650), both from the collection of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City, were recently examined and treated at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The removal of extremely discolored varnish layers that had masked these paintings revealed Velázquez’s remarkable technique and subtle sense of color in ways that had not been seen in more than a century. These two works, along with five other exceptional portraits created in the final two decades of the artist’s career—including The Met’s iconic Juan de Pareja (1650)—are being presented in Velázquez Portraits: Truth in Painting, on view at the Museum through March 12, 2017.

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Juan de Pareja (1606–1670) | Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) (Spanish, Seville 1599–1660 Madrid) | 1650 | Oil on canvas | 32 x 27 1/2 in. (81.3 x 69.9 cm) | Purchase, Fletcher and Rogers Funds, and Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), by exchange, supplemented by gifts from friends of the Museum, 1971

Although his formal state portraits of the leading figures of the Spanish monarchy are what established Velázquez (1599–1660) in his career, these bust-length likenesses he produced in Spain and during his travels in Italy are some of his most immediate and captivating images. Freed of the restrictions that apply to state and allegorical portraiture, Velázquez was able to capture in these paintings the temperaments, moods, and inner reflections of their subjects. In showing them roughly life-size, and setting them against a neutral background, Velázquez invested his subjects with a timelessness that makes them powerfully affecting to this day.

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Cardinal Camillo Astalli-Pamphili (1616/19–1663) | Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) (Spanish, Seville 1599–1660 Madrid) | ca. 1650 | Oil on canvas | 24 × 19 1/8 in. (61 × 48.5 cm) | On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY

The exhibition is made possible by the Richard and Natalie Jacoff Foundation.


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The exhibition is organized by Stephan Wolohojian, Curator in the Department of European Paintings, and Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge of Paintings Conservation, both at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.