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Agustín Esteve y Marques, Spanish, 1753-c. 1820 — Portrait of Isidro González Velásquez

Agustín Esteve y Marqués (1753 – 1830) was a Spanish painter from Valencia especially commissioned by the Casa Real in Madrid.  Was born to an artistic family whose origins date back to the 15th century.  He trained in the Academy of Fine Arts in San Carlos in Valencia, and continued his studies in Madrid at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando, where he won the best drawing and best painting prize.  Among other influences, such as Fransico Bayeu, Mariano Salvador Maella and Rafael Mengs, the most reprising was that of Goya who made the most of artistic compact.  He collaborated with Goya for many years and also painted replicates of his work with his authorship. Famous are the copies of Portraits of Carlos IV and Maria Luisa de Parma, that are exhibited in the Prado Museum, while the originals by Goya lay in the Palacio de Oriente.  Esteve painted mainly portraits, and was recognized for his genuine potency. In 1780 he was appointed by the king, painter of the Court – (Pintor de la Corte). He moved back to Valencia during the years of the War of Independence and while Spain had a new king, but returned to Madrid in 1815.  He was awarded pension by the king and later returned to Valencia where he died after a year.

One of his outstanding portraits is the one of Marquesa de San Andres De Parma, and Contesa de Lerena.

The Portrait of Isidro González Velásquez, is one of his outstanding examples of portraiture, which belongs to the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Isidoro Gonzales Velasquez was an architect of the time, who visited Paris and Rome and Greece and studied the specimens of Art and Architecture there, returning to his homeland Spain to embody this knowledge to his work for the Palace.

This portrait is executed with much serenity and persuasion.  The romantic painting, is characterized by an emphasis on emotion and individuality.  It was Romanticism that being a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, it followed the medieval epoque rather than the Greco-Roman verse of Classicism.

The portrait of the man stands against a slightly dim lighted background around the figure, bringing forth the subject. The light comes from the side and the front of the illustrated figure embracing it with polished poise. The face stands calm and certain of himself, being a portrait of an upper- class artistic figurine.  This is also stated by the posture of the subject, having his right hand inside his vest.  It is a famous stance of gesture in the 18th and 19th century, that is mainly associated with the pose of Napoleon I of France, illustrated firstly by Jacques Louis David, and then followed by other artists of the time.  It is used to indicate leadership in a calm and firm manner, however when broadly used it implies a figure of upper class genre and denoted “manly boldness tempered with modesty” as stated in an Arline Mayer essay.  This pose dates back to Aeschines, a Greek rhetoric, who states that speaking with the arm outside one’s toga is bad manners.

It is withstanding this information that this portrait in the simplicity that it conveys, that make it a fine example of 18th century Spanish portrait painting.

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Agustín Esteve y Marques, Spanish, 1753-c. 1820 — Portrait of Isidro González Velásquez


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