London – Westminster (Borough of) – Wallace Collection (Prince Baltasar Carlos in the Riding School by Diego Velázquez)

This painting in the Wallace Collection has its own Wikipedia page, albeit shared with another version of the artwork. It’s not known whether Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) painted this himself, or it was done by his studio. The gallery has traditionally gone for the latter, but Xavier Bray, who is the director of the collection, has featured in a video on their web-site saying that he thinks it might be the work of Velázquez himself. Apparently, the painting needs cleaning and it is that which the director thinks will show the quality of the artwork underneath. And, it would be nicer to have a painting by the artist himself and not just his studio (he didn’t add that, I did).

The artwork was painted at the riding school in Madrid in 1636, featuring Prince Baltasar Carlos in control of his horse. It was deliberate, to show the young man and future King being able to manage horse-riding and seem competent. I liked that Bray mentioned he thinks there might be figures who have been removed on the right-hand side of the painting, with the artist doing this to direct the eye back to the Prince. There’s a plan for the painting to be X-Rayed and then they will have their answer.

Unfortunately, this bright new hope for the Spanish Empire died at the age of 16 with smallpox, which was a problem as he was the only son of King Philip IV at the time. However, when Philip’s wife died, he remarried and at the age of 56 he had another son, King Charles II. Who became infamous for a whole host of reasons not entirely relevant here….