Conserving Velázquez’s Portrait of Philip IV

The “Portrait of Philip IV” by Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660) returned recently from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, having been cleaned for the first time in more than sixty years. The gleaming silver brocade covering the king’s crimson coat is executed in an extraordinarily free and spontaneous manner, which is almost unparalleled in the painter’s production and can now be better appreciated. The treatment by Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge of Paintings Conservation, revealed the dazzling original surface that had been veiled by a yellowing varnish. Additionally, the first technical studies of the painting were undertaken, involving microscopy, X-radiography, and infrared reflectography.

Video from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cite this page as: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Conserving Velázquez’s Portrait of Philip IV," in Smarthistory, May 6, 2017, accessed June 23, 2024,