Rubens: Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma (1603)

In 1603, Rubens traveled to Spain for the first time, on a diplomatic mission from Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. There, he painted Francisco Goméz de Sandoval y Rojas, Duke of Lerma, a favorite of the Spanish king, the “king’s shadow” with unprecedented power. Was it the genius loci? Did he cater to the tastes of his patron? In any case this portrait is very Spanish in its coloring and atmosphere, probably more so than any other work by the artist. Fittingly, it never left Spain and is now located at the Prado.

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