2015 Archives

Presenting Infanta Margarita in a Blue Dress by Velázquez

Exhibit runs through Nov. 1 at SMU's Meadows Museum


The following is from the July 24, 2015, edition of The Dallas Morning News

August 2, 2015

By Michael Granberry
Arts and Features

They arrive in crates and boxes and date back centuries. They carry secrets and stories of a bygone era. They’re here for a while, and then they’re gone.

Such is the case with the recent flurry of shipments to the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University, where the institution founded by Algur Meadows and dedicated to Spanish art celebrates its 50th anniversary at the same time the school is turning 100. . .

Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress Just one of the recent artifacts to arrive on the Hilltop is a masterwork by Diego Velázquez, who lived from 1599 to 1660. Velázquez’s final series of portraits also included one of his most notable. He painted Portrait of the Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress in 1659, a year before he died.

On loan from the Kunsthistorisches in Vienna, the painting depicts an 8-year-old Margarita, daughter of Mariana and Philip IV, in whose court Velázquez was the leading artist. The girl also appears prominently in the Velázquez masterpiece, Las Meninas.

Such works helped elevate Velázquez as one of the most notable portraitists of the contemporary Baroque period. He painted scores of portraits of the Spanish royal family and served as a role model for such realist and impressionist painters as Édouard Manet. In later eras, Picasso, Dalí and Francis Bacon emulated his style.

The paintings in those crates and boxes almost always carry a rare history, and this one is no exception. As Meadows officials note in describing the portrait by Velázquez on loan from Vienna:

“Once completed, this painting was sent to her future husband and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I in Vienna to inform him of his young fiancée’s appearance. Restricting his palette to blue, silver, white and brown tones, Velázquez masterfully evokes diverse surfaces and textures — a lace collar, gold chain, fur muff — exemplifying the artist’s loose, virtuoso brushwork, best viewed at a distance.”

Those who come to see the portrait will get even more than they expected. The Meadows is pairing Portrait of the Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress with Velázquez portraits of the Infanta’s parents. Those, held in the Meadows’ permanent collection, are titled Portrait of King Philip IV (1623-24) and Portrait of Queen Mariana (1656).

All three will be displayed along with Velázquez’s Female Figure (Sibyl With Tabula Rasa), 1648. That, too, is housed in the Meadows’ permanent collection.

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