Philip IV in Brown and Silver (c. 1631-32) by Diego Velazquez

Philip IV in Brown and Silver - Diego Velazquez - 1631 - 1632

Artwork Information

TitlePhilip IV in Brown and Silver
ArtistDiego Velazquez
Date1631 - 1632
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions131 x 231 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationNational Gallery, London
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About Philip IV in Brown and Silver

Diego Velázquez’s Philip IV of Spain in Brown and Silver is a stunning oil painting created c. 1631-32. It features the portrait of-Philip IV of Spain, measuring 131×231 cm, standing tall in a richly embroidered brown and silver costume. Velázquez intentionally focused the viewers on the austere yet determined expression of the king by minimizing the distracting elements from the background, opting for a neutral background palette with subtle hint of whitish yellow light. The flesh colour similarly softens so that all attention is centered on his confident countenance.

This masterpiece perfectly encapsulates how Pedro Calderón de la Barca referred to Philip as “a monarch all steel, an excellent prince” and explains why he was very celebrated during his reign in Spain and abroad. Similarly, it provides insight into why Velázquez was appointed court painter by the king himself and sent on various diplomatic missions overseas in the service of either Philip or Felipe V – his only son who eventually succeeded him as ruler.

Pablo De Valladolid, another painting by Velazquez created circa 1635 showcases a similar type of composition used by this baroque artist to celebrate action taking place outside framed paintings such as Philip IV in Brown and Silver but also expresses a more adventurous vibe through its brightly coloured setting and vigorous gestures taken by both depicted characters – soldiers travelling to join campaign troops commanded by noted military leader Count O’Neill. Despite being quite different from each other, these two works demonstrate both wonderful aspects of Diego Velázquez’s remarkable artistic style which has been inspiring generations after generation since his death in 1660.

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