Don Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf (1632) by Diego Velazquez

Don Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf - Diego Velazquez - 1632

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Artwork Information

TitleDon Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf
ArtistDiego Velazquez
Dimensions128 x 102 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationMuseum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, MA, US

About Don Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf

The artwork titled “Don Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf” was painted by the eminent Spanish painter Diego Velazquez in 1632. This oil on canvas masterpiece measures 128 by 102 centimeters and belongs to the Baroque art movement. Renowned for its striking portrayal, the artwork is categorized within the genre of portraiture and is currently housed in the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

In the artwork, the focal point is the young Don Baltasar Carlos, depicted alongside a dwarf, a common courtly presence in the Baroque period. The future heir to the Spanish throne is featured standing, commanding attention at the center. He wears an extravagant dark outfit richly adorned with fine details and golden motifs, indicative of his royal status. A prominent, delicate white lace collar frames his face, and he holds a baton, symbolizing authority or perhaps merely serving as a child’s plaything.

To Don Baltasar Carlos’s side is the figure of a dwarf, looking up at the young prince with a facial expression that warrants careful interpretation. Commonly, dwarfs were painted to highlight the stature and status of royalty through juxtaposition. This figure contributes to the complex social narrative of the period, adding depth to Velazquez’s work beyond mere visual aesthetics.

The setting of the artwork is understated and dark, with a heavy curtain draped in the background to perhaps suggest a theatrical or courtly environment. On the right side, there is a small dog seated on the floor, its white fur forming a contrast against the darker tones of the surrounding area. The dog appears calm and domestic, a possible symbol of loyalty or companionship.

The composition, with its play of light and shadow and the rich textures and fabrics, is rendered with the distinctive technique that Velazquez is celebrated for, combining realistic depiction with a touch of the artist’s interpretative sensibility. The contrast between the young prince‚Äôs formal stance and the dwarf’s deferential position offers a glimpse into the societal hierarchy and norms of the 17th-century Spanish court.

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