La infanta Margarita de Austria

Oil on canvas
212 x 147 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.743)


Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, Velázquez’s son-in-law and follower, painted two portraits of Margarita María, one when she was still an Infanta of Spain and the other after she became Empress of Austria. In this first one, started c. 1660, she is depicted wearing a voluminous farthingale in tones of silver and pink and holding a large white handkerchief, painted with a splendid technique clearly indebted to the master’s teachings. Though Mazo’s organization of the composition is reminiscent of other portraits of the queen and the infantas, he fails to give it the perspective and depth Velázquez achieved in his pictures.

The exhibition also presents the other portrait of Margarita painted by Mazo in 1666, where she appears dressed in black, mourning the recent death of her father, Philip IV.

Mazo had begun his her as a painter in the shadow of his stepfather, whose work influenced him greatly. He made a number of copies of famous paintings by his master and other artists of special renown. The copies of Palas and Arachne by Rubens and Apollo and Pan by Jordaens that appear in the background of the canvas Las Meninas are by Mazo. On Velázquez’s death he took his place as chamber painter to the king, and continued to make portraits of court personages.

Until recently, this work was considered to be the last by Diego Velázquez, and, on his being unable to finish it, to have been completed by his son-in-law and follower. (In the catalogue Velázquez, which accompanied the exhibition in the Prado Museum in 1990, this work is attributed to Velázquez and Mazo).

Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo

Castilla, 1605 – Madrid, 1667

A painter of the Madrid Baroque school. Disciple and son-in-law of Diego Velázquez, he made a number of copies of his father-in-law’s paintings, and his portraits also imitate Velázquez’s style. His landscapes are more personal, and very respectful of the facts, with a painstaking treatment of the figures. In 1643 he became painter of the prince (Baltasar Carlos). On Velázquez’s death he was named painter to the king.