According to the records, this picture was purchased by Dona Antonia de Ypenarrieta from Velazquez in 1624 and was in the possession of her descendants until 1911, when it passed into the hands of Mr. Altman. For about two hundred and twenty-five years it hung in the Palace of Corral and Narros at Zarauz; in the middle of the last century it was removed to the Villahermosa Palace in Madrid.
There is an article by August L. Mayer in Art in America for October, 1913, treating of this picture and its companion piece, the portrait of Philip’s minister Olivares, both known on account of their provenance as the “Villahermosa” examples. The story of the discussion of which these pictures have been the subject in late years and the relation which our picture bears to two similar works in American collections, the portrait from R. Bankes’ collection at Kingston Lacy, now belonging to Mrs. John L. Gardner of Boston, and the example in the Boston Museum, which was acquired in 1904 in Madrid, are told in this article. Both of these variants are pronounced by Dr. Mayer to be copies of our painting.
A. de Beruete agreed with this decision finally, though his first opinion was against the authenticity of both the Villahermosa pictures. He speaks of the Philip as “evidently not taken from nature because it lacks that firmness of execution which Velazquez always displayed when working from the living model.” He also believed the person portrayed might be the Infante Don Fernando, a younger brother of the king, but all doubts on this head were set aside by the discovery in 1906 by José Ramon Mélida in the archives of the ducal house of Corral and Narros at Zarauz of the autograph receipt by Velazquez dated December 4, 1624, of which the translation reads, ” I, Diego Velasquez, painter to his Majesty, declare that I have received from Senor Juan de Cenos 800 realles * in accordance with the specifications of this document which I received through Lope Lucio d’Espinosa, a resident of Burgos, which money I received on account of the three portraits of the King and of the Count of Olivares and of Senor Garciperez, in witness where of my signature given at Madrid on the 4th of December, 1624. Diego Velasquez.”
This precious document passed into the possession of Mr. Altman with the picture and now belongs to the Museum. It definitely disposes of the question of authorship and also dates our picture as before December 4, 1624, when the painter was in his twenty-sixth year. Both points are of extreme interest to historians.