Artist: Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) (Spanish, Seville 1599–1660 Madrid)
Date: ca. 1630–35
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 27 x 21 3/4 in. (68.6 x 55.2 cm)
Credit Line: The Jules Bache Collection, 1949
Accession Number: 49.7.42
This portrait is a study for the figure who gazes out from the far right of Velázquez's Surrender of Breda (ca. 1635, Museo del Prado, Madrid). That large canvas, depicting one of the most famous military successes in Philip IV's reign, integrates a number of portraits. Although it has been argued that this man is none other than the artist, scholars have questioned whether the painter would have dared to include himself as a bystander at the historic military victory. The surviving evidence suggests that Velázquez rarely made studies for his larger works and did not make oil studies for the other figures in Surrender at Breda. However, a preparatory step such as this work would have made it easier for the artist to include an image of himself in the picture. The canvas may have remained in his studio; a "portrait of Diego Velázquez, clothes to be finished" is listed in a posthumous inventory of the artist's possessions.