Attributed to Juan Battista Martinez del Mazo    Spanish  1613-1667
SN 337    Oil on Canvas        About 1652/53

by Robert Anderson

    This Spanish painter was a pupil of Velazquez who married his daughter in 1633 and who succeeded him as court painter in 1661. As Velazquez was promoted to higher offices by the King he pushed or pulled Mazo along with him. One of his very few signed works is a portrait of Queen Mariana. Many of the works attributed to him were formerly given to Velazquez, whose mature style he imitated with distinction.
    Various portraits of Mariana of Austria, by Mazo, were used as prototypes for later portraits of the Queen by other court painters, particularly Juan Carreno de Miranda.
    Mazo's landscape paintings with small figures are personal in style and his extraordinary ability in this genre was recognized by his contemporaries. He had great skill in the graceful depiction of the gestures and expressions of the figures in his landscapes.
    Mazo was known to have copied the works of other artists, particularly Rubens and Titian, with such a degree of perfection that, according to Palomino, it was almost impossible to distinguish the copies from the originals.

    Mariana, Queen of Spain, was the daughter of the Emperor Ferdinand III and Mary of Hungary. At age fourteen (14) she became the second wife of King Philip IV of Spain (his first wife, Isabel of Bourbon having died in 1649). Philip had been left without an heir at forty-four, after his son Balthasar also died. Mariana bore Philip two sons: Philip Prosper, who died at the age of four (4) and the future Carlos Segundo, Charles II. She was known as a spendthrift whose extravagance added to the later financial woes of the country.
    Philip and Mariana's chldren were often portrayed by Velazquez, most famously in "Las Meninas", whose central figure, the Infanta Margarita strikingly resembles her mother.

    Mariana is seen here in a stance known as the "Royal Portrait Style". Age made no difference, all royal ladies stood in the same positioning. She is dressed in a black gown with silver ornamentation over which is seen a shawl decorated with pearls and medallions. Her right arm reaches out to a table while her left holds a large white kerchief. Mariana wears bracelets and rings on both hands and has an elaborate hairdo. Her young face has red cheeks but she looks rather haughty and petulant.

    Mariana became Queen at a time when Spain was at war with both Holland and France. Management of the country, its civil affairs and the management of the war effort, was left in the hands of one of Philip's ministers, Don Gaspar de Guzman the Count of Olivares. Philip, himself was much more interested in food, women, art and hunting. The arts flourished but the country was crushed by high taxes and the defeat on land and sea by France and Holland. After Philip's death in 1665, Mariana, as regent for her son Charles II, left the rule of the country in the hands first of her confessor Johannes Nithard, then under the control of her lover Fernando Valenzuela.
    Decadence became the order of the day. No great literary figure dignified the age, no great drama took the stage. The universities were languishing amid the general destitution. Charles the half-idiot son of Philip and Mariana assumed the government and presided helplessly over the debacle. The disintegration of Spain became a European tragedy and by 1700 the country was signed over to the Duke of Anjou, grandson of the French King. Charles died at the age of thirty-nine (39), the last of the Hapsburg rulers of Spain.