Michael Gallagher: "Conservation of 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.

For more information about this painting, see the related exhibition The King at War: Velázquez's Portrait of Philip IV, which ran from October 26, 2010, through January 23, 2011.