Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 107

Velázquez composes: prototypes, replicas, and transformations
Velázquez composes: prototypes, replicas, and transformations
Until now the use of auxiliary aids to replicate has
been considered a feature of the artist’s early career,
when he was working in Seville and in the early years
at court, still, perhaps, steeped in his master’s edicts
about the primacy of clear contours and fully studied
motifs. Indeed, one of the few early inventory entries
for Velázquez’s bodegones suggests that the Two Young
Men at a Humble Table (see fig. 8) belonged to Fernando
Enríquez Afán de Ribera, 3rd Duke of Alcalá (15831637),29 a prominent humanist and patron with whom
Pacheco (and by association, young Velázquez) had
a friendly relationship.30 Alcalá was a member of the
informal humanist academy that met to discuss art
theory and poetry and history, in the “gilded cage” of
Pacheco’s studio in the early years of the seventeenth
century. The intellectual climate that determined the
value of certain practical and stylistic characteristics
– like clear outlines and the importance of sound and
decorous iconography – was thriving in the very studio
where Velázquez was trained.
Fig. 12 / Diego Velázquez, Lady
with a Fan, ca. 1638-1640, oil on
canvas, 92.8 x 68.5 cm, London,
Wallace Collection.
Fig. 13 / Diego Velázquez,
Portrait of a Young Lady, ca.
1638-1640, oil on canvas, 97.8
x 48 cm, Chatsworth House,
Collection of the Duke of
In 2006, through a collaboration between the
Wallace Collection, Chatsworth, and the National
Gallery, two portraits by Velázquez, Lady with a Fan
(Wallace Collection) (fig. 12) and Portrait of a Young
Woman (Chatsworth, Devonshire Collection) (fig. 13)
were brought together for technical examination at
the National Gallery.31 Both works were painted by
Velázquez in the Madrid court and dated 1638-1640.32
At the National Gallery, London, a close comparison
of radiographs, infra-red images, and exact tracing
of the Wallace Collection Lady with a Fan with the
related portrait at Chatsworth was undertaken. The
striking difference in costume made it even more
surprising to discover that the features and principal
details of the figures align exactly. The identity of the
sitter(s?) continues to be a point of discussion amongst
Velázquez scholars, but the examination undertaken in
2006 made at least one thing perfectly clear: the head
with every feature, and the torso of the sitter coincide
precisely in both paintings (fig. 14).


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