Anonymous sale, New York, Christie's, October 16, 1987, lot 127 (as Spanish School).
Juan Pantoja de la Cruz worked for the Spanish royal family from about 1585 onwards, and on Philip III's accession to the throne in 1598 became official portrait painter to the court. His style, with its restrained demeanor and close attention to pattern and detail, was formed upon that of his mentor, Alonso Sanchez Coello. The present painting is an important addition to the oeuvre of the artist and to his corpus of royal portraiture in particular. The numerous portraits of Philip III always depict the king wearing armor, but this canvas depicts the young king in a relatively informal pose. He is shown in the costume of an elegant gentleman, with only the ermine lining of his boemio (a cape with sleeves) and the chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece hinting at his elevated status. Dr. Maria Kusche has noted, in fact, the present canvas is the only known painting of Philip III without armor by the artist, and the only in three-quarter length, made after a first version by Pantoja of 1596, reflected in an engraving of P. Perret with the inscription "Don Felipe Príncipe XVIII de las Espannas, y del nuevo Mundo a los XIX Annos de su edad, en el 1596...Petrus Perret Sculpt Regis f." (Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid). Possibly this first version was a miniature portrait as it was repeated by the artist in 1604, described in an account of works made for the Queen dating from 1600 to 1607, adapting probably the face to the age: "Mas en 14 de enero de 1604 un retrato chico, en naype, del Rey Nuestro Señor, con un boemio de martas estando el Rey en Valencia; entreguele a nuestra Señora en las Descalzas en Madrid. 110 Reales."υ1 Kusche believes that the miniature furnished the prototype which was then worked up into a larger, three-quarter length portrait by the artist, of a size and format that exist in other examples of his portraiture from the opening years of the 17υth Century.υ2 She further notes that the composition must have enjoyed some success, as it seems later to have been repeated and enlarged to a full-length version, and was adapted by other artists, even after Pantoja's death; a copy by Bartolomé González exists in the Uffizi. The present painting will be included in Dr. Maria Kusche's monograph on Juan Pantoja de la Cruz y sus Seguidores, in preparation. 1 "Another on 14υth of January of 1604 a small portrait, on card, of the King our Lord, with a sleeved cape with sable, the King being in Valencia, delivered to our Lady in the Descalzas in Madrid. 100 Reales (cf. M. Kusche, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, 1964, p. 236). 2 For example, three female portraits in the collection of the Marqueses de Frias and de Viana (cf. M. Kusche, op cit, figs 13-15) and the portraits of Isabel Clara Eugenia and Archduke Albert of 1600 in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich.