The Mighty Equine: The Influence of Titian and Rubens on the Equestrian Portraits of Velázquez
Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Art and Art History
Major or Concentration
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660) is considered by many to be one of the greatest artists Spain has ever produced. This essay explores the relationship between the painters Titian (ca. 1488-1576), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), and Velázquez. In analyzing aspects of Velázquez's equestrian portraiture of the family of Philip IV, circa 1635-1636, Isabel of Bourbon, Infante Baltasar Carlos, and especially that of the king himself, Philip IV, and comparing them with Titian's Charles V at Mühlberg (ca. 1548) and The Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand at the Battle of Nördlingen (1634) by Rubens, it is possible to see stylistic similarities between the great masters. This research includes a copy of a lost Rubens work, Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV (1628), completed around 1645. Evidence is presented through a comparison of the painting with works by Rubens and Velázquez to suggest that the copy was primarily executed by a disciple of Velázquez, Juan Bautista Martínez de Mazo (ca. 1612-1667), but that the face of the king and the head of the horse were done by Velázquez himself. The event that proved pivotal to Velázquez can be traced to a visit by Rubens to the Spanish court of Philip IV in 1628-1629. A brief history of 17th-century Spain as it pertains to the Habsburg court is discussed. Although Titian is profoundly important to the development of Velázquez, Rubens appears to have been the bigger direct influence, both as an artist and as a member of the court, acting as the catalyst for Velázquez to take special notice of the works of Titian within the royal collections and encouraging the Spaniard to study in Italy. Titian became a major influence on him through his studies, which can be seen in the later equestrian portraits through the simplicity of compositions and the kingly virtues that the figures display through their royal bearing. Velázquez developed new skills on his travels, such as looser brushwork and a wider color palette, during his year and a half visit to Italy (1629-1631). Also, Velázquez broadened his subject matter to include mythological works. The painter was able to incorporate these new techniques into his existing style in order to paint in any manner that best suited his artistic purpose. Velázquez, Titian, and Rubens are three artists who are intertwined in their artistic careers. Titian inspired everyone who came into contact with his work; Rubens took notice and in turn presented an example for Velázquez to follow. This essay deals primarily with period surrounding the meeting between Rubens and Velázquez in 1628 and the creation of the equestrian portraits in the mid-1630s.
Woeckener, Kristine Susan, "The Mighty Equine: The Influence of Titian and Rubens on the Equestrian Portraits of Velázquez" (2015). Student Research Submissions. 94.