Gabriel de la Cueva

Oil painting of bearded nobleman leaning against a stone ledge. He wears a black jerkin over red slashed sleeves and soft black hat. A gold-hilt rapier sits on his left hip

Giovanni Battista Moroni (1520/24–1579/80)
Gabriel de la Cueva, dated 1560
Oil on canvas
44 1/8 x 33 1/8 in. (112 x 84 cm)
Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin (79.01)
Inscription: AQVI ESTO SIN TEMOR / Y DELA MVERTE / NO HE PAVOR. [I am here without fear and of death I have no dread]; below, “M.D.LX. / Io: Bap. Moronus. p.” [1560 / Giovanni Battista Moroni painted it].
bpk Bildagentur / Staatliche Museen, Berlin / Jörg P. Anders / Art Resource, NY

 

One of Moroni’s most prestigious sitters, Gabriel de la Cueva y Girón, Count of Ledesma and Huelma, became viceroy of Navarre in 1560, fifth duke of Alburquerque in 1563, and served as governor of Milan from 1564 until his death in 1571. How and when he and Moroni met is unknown. They may have been introduced by Isotta Brembati or others among the pro-Spanish elite in Bergamo. The Spanish inscription reportedly recurs in the dukes of Alburquerque family history. Here, it draws attention to the sitter’s prominently displayed rapier. The hilt type, typical of the mid-sixteenth century, is similar to that of the rapier produced near Moroni’s Bergamo.