Long believed to be a copy after a lost portrait by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (and described as such in the catalogue of the current special exhibition), this portrait has very recently been restored and discovered to be the original. After having been reattributed by scholar Benito Navarrete Prieto, it was added to the current special exhibition in mid-November, two weeks after the acclaimed show opened, and will remain on view through the rest of the New York presentation.
A celebrated aristocrat in Seville, Diego Ortiz de Zúñiga (1633–1680) was also a historian who charted the history of the city from the Middle Ages to 1671 in his Annales eclesiásticos y seculares de la ciudad de Sevilla. His coat of arms appears at the top of the frame and the cross of the Order of Santiago on his left shoulder. The portrait is listed among Ortiz de Zúñiga’s possessions at the time of his death, in 1680. The elaborate stone frame with putti is similar to the one in the portrait of Juan Arias de Saavedra.
The story of this remarkable painting’s reattribution and unexpected showing at the Frick made international headlines, starting with and engaging story by Dalya Alberge in the British newspaper The Guardian, which we invite you to read online.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Diego Ortiz de Zúñiga, ca. 1655, oil on canvas, private collection, United Kingdom; image courtesy of Sotheby's