American Historian Donates Velázquez Painting to Museo del Prado

The portrait of King Philip III has been authenticated recently.

Portrait of King Philip III by Diego de Velázquez. Courtesy Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
Portrait of King Philip III by Diego de Velázquez. Courtesy Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

Madrid’s Museo del Prado has been gifted a painting that was recently attributed to Diego Velázquez.

The artwork, a portrait of King Philip III, was donated to the museum by the American art historian William B. Jordan, a specialist in Spanish still-life painting, via the American Friends of the Prado Museum (AFPM), a non-profit organization founded last year.

The New York Times reports that Jordan bought the painting at auction in 1988, at Phillips, where it wasn’t attributed to Velázquez and was labeled as depicting Don Rodrigo Calderón.

“I lived with this painting for almost 30 years and I acquired it thinking that it was what it is, although with the thought that eventually I would donate it somewhere,” Jordan told the NYT in a telephone interview. “It was very obvious to me that it was King Felipe III,” he added.

Last year, Jordan took his painting to the experts at the Prado to have it authenticated. Experts at the museum said the portrait was made by Velázquez as a preparatory painting for the face of King Philip III, which became part of The Expulsion of the Moriscos. That important painting was finished in 1627, but was destroyed in 1734 in a fire at the Madrid palace of the Real Alcázar. No copy of the work survived.

The work has been deposited with the museum, where it will hang as part of its permanent collection from next spring.

The Museo del Prado has around 48 paintings by Velázquez, more than a third of his total production, making it one of key institutions looking after the Old Master’s body of work.

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