Queen Isabel of Bourbon Equestrian, 1635 by Diego Velazquez
One of the most valued masterpieces of the palace collection was the portrait of Charles V on Horseback, by Titian; in imitation of this, the portraits of the Kings of Spain, commissioned to Velazquez, had also to be on horseback. The decoration was undertaken and carried out, apparently, in great haste; it took little over a year. Perhaps it was for this reason that the portrait of Isabella of Bourbon was entrusted to a cold and formal assistant. Velazquez, however, on his return from Italy, had already portayed the queen in a magnificent picture - only recently discovered in the F.T. Sabin collection - which was to serve as the model, with some modifications in the dress, for the one in the throne-room. Velazquez stepped in and improved on the latter's mediocrity, giving an incredible vivacity to the famous white horse the queen loved so much, and modifying the landscape, perhaps. From the Renaissance, the representation of horses was considered as important as that of their riders; here, Velazquez shows that he has inherited Italian ideas.