King Philip IV as a Huntsman Diego Velazquez Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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King Philip IV ruled Spain for many years and developed an impressive court of painters who were required to capture his life in a variety of settings. Hunting was a symbolic theme which boasted strength and success, and here Velazquez depicts the figure within this type of environment.

This was a King who not only supported the arts, but also genuinely understood and loved it. He desired only the finest painters for his court and was highly respectful towards Velazquez once he realised just how gifted an artist he was. Whilst forcing his requests for work upon his employee, he still tried to placate the painter as best he could. He later went on to use his services for portraits of other members of his family and at this time there was no other way of documenting people's lives in a visual manner. There would be over a dozen portraits of the King alone to have come from Velazquez's hand and their relationship would also help the painter to spread his reputation outside the Spanish boundaries, such as into Italy. Whilst calling upon a number of other artists during his lifetime, Velazquez must be considered to be King Philip IV's favourite choice in most circumstances.

Philip looks confidently at us whilst dressed in clothing that is typical of the hunting fashion of the 17th century. His clothes are thick and dark in colour, where anything more delicate would see become damaged in the hustle and bustle of the hunt. His jacket is brown, relatively minimal in detail, with a small leather belt around his waist. His creme gloves may be made of animal hide and he holds a long shooting rifle in the right hand. A loyal dog stands by his side and in the background we find rolling hills with a small river and bright sky. A tree is placed on the left to frame the scene and this also provides additional interest with dark shadows that contrast with the bright tones around the King's face. The overall piece provides an example of Velazquez's varied talents in depicting clothing, animals, landscapes as well as the model's own face and figure.

This painting can be found at the Prado Museum in Madrid amongst perhaps the best collection of Velazquez paintings, anywhere in the world. There are around nine paintings at the National Gallery in London, with more than sixty here in Madrid, with the rest spread thinly all across Europe, with a few to be found in North America. Visitors to the Prado Museum will also be able to enjoy a truly varied and deep reflection of European painting and sculpture from the Renaissance up to around the mid 19th century, with most major names represented somewhere within their impressive collection. One of the highlights alongside Velazquez would have to be their collection of another famous Spanish artist's work - Goya.