Diego Velazquez’s painting, “Philip IV as a hunter,” depicts the middle-aged King of Spain during his long reign (1621-65). Commissioned in 1624, along with two other portraits, this scene shows Philip IV dressed in a lavish hunting outfit. The splendour of his costume suggests that it was made for a specific celebration. A similar outfit was worn by the king in 1632 for an important ceremony.
This is one of over 20 paintings of Philip IV completed by Velazquez during his career as court painter. Velazquez, considered one of the greatest European painters of all time and best known for his portraiture work, captured the essence of the king in this particular painting. It provides us with insight into how Philip IV dressed on formal occasions and also informs us about cultural preferences at that time.
It is important to note that besides portraits, Las Meninas remains another great masterpiece created by Velazquez depicting life at the court under King Philip IV’s reign. The Surrender of Breda remains his sole artwork showing historical events happening at that time. Considering its significance and relevance even today, Las Meninas continues to influence artists worldwide.
The portrait “Philip IV as a hunter” reveals information not only about King Philip but also about artist Diego Velazquez while exhibiting details on life during the seventeenth century that remain available through artworks such as this one.