Prince Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf 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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The figure found in front of us here would hold many prominent positions within his short life, including Duke of Montblanc, Prince of Asturias, Prince of Girona, Lord of Balaguer, Count of Cervera and Prince of Viana. He was being primed to rule all of the Spanish territories before his premature death at the age of just sixteen.

Prince Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf features content that would probably prove controversial today - the use of the term Dwarf is not considered acceptable by most within the western world, and the way in which he is dressed up alongside a child would probably also be deemed somewhat discriminatory or at the very least taking advantage of someone's disability. If we put all of that aside in order to judge the piece by the standards of the day, we do discover a stunning piece which illustrates some of the artistic qualities possessed by Diego Velazquez. The way in which the light bounces of the white dress, for example, is impressive, and in general the attire on both figures is beautifully delivered. Besides that, see also the sweeping curtain at the top of the painting, and the carpet on which they stand, both of which hold good detail and successfully cover the challenging discipline of depicting drapery.

We see further examples of Velazquez's work with the prince in two other portraits that he produced at around the same time as this one - namely Prince Balthasar Carlos in Hunting Dress and Portrait of Prince Balthasar Charles. It is tragic that we would never get to see him Prince Baltasar Carlos grow as a man within art because of his early demise but this is entirely typical of the precarious nature of life during the 17th century, in comparison to today. As a man with power he was also more vulnerable in some ways than even the most average of peasants, because of the desire from others to take some of these benefits for themselves. There is also considerable historic value to paintings such as these as we can better understand what life was like for children during this time and also see how their families would be planning their futures very early on.

This painting from 1631, known as Prince Balthasar Charles with a Dwarf, can now be found within the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, whose collection continues to amaze us with its breadth and variety. For example, their collection of Asian art is amongst the best in the US, with a number of paintings from the likes of Hokusai and Hiroshige. There is also European sculpture to enjoy here as well as some Impressionist art from the most prominent of names. They have also been developing a significant collection of American art as well over the last century or so, ensuring that their visitors are well catered for, whatever their tastes. It can be considered one of the finest art galleries within North America currently, and retains a huge popularity year on year, with many travelling from outside its state borders in order to see some of this impressive collection.