Velázquez Portrait of Spanish Queen Pulled by Sotheby’s

Velázquez Portrait of Spanish Queen Isabel de Borbón, Expected to Break Previous Artist's Records, Got Pulled by Sotheby's.

Jan 7, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The painter. Via Wikipedia


Velázquez Portrait of Spanish Queen Isabel de Borbón won’t be a part of Sotheby’s digital auction, released on December 21. Previously expected to sell and break previous painter’s records, the painting got covertly pulled from Sotheby’s sale in New York. Overall, the owners of the pieces decided to withdraw it from the sale due to “ongoing discussions” about the painting.


Velázquez Pieces Rarely Go on Open Auctions

Velázquez, Isabel de Borbón
Isabel de Borbón, Queen of Spain, ca. 1620s.


A family personal estate possessed the work of art since 1978. Although there are rumours that a US museum possibly made a proposal, Sotheby’s refuses to address the matter. The auction house established the 1620s picture at $35 million for its next Old Master sale on February 1. The portrait of Isabel de Borbon may have something in common with a well-known Velázquez picture of her husband Philip IV.


The Prado in Madrid holds the painting of Philip IV. Upon Napoleon‘s invasion in 1808, it was removed from the Spanish royal treasury located in Madrid. Later, showed up in a prestigious collection in France in 1838. Henry Huth, a British financier and book collector, eventually acquired it.


diego velázquez surrender of breda painting
The Surrender of Breda, Diego Velázquez, 1599-1600. Source: Museo del Prado


Before the piece’s most recent auction in 1950, his ancestors owned it. Excellent Velázquez pieces rarely come up for sale at open auctions and typically reside in monarch or museum holdings. This uniqueness is reflected in the excellent preservation as well as the price tag.

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A Temporary Pause in the Sale Process

velazquez venus painting
Rokeby Venus, c. 1647-1651, via Wikipedia


The piece, if sold, would more than quadruple the existing bidding benchmark of $16.9 million set by the Spanish painter from the 17th century. The estimated price of Isabel de Borbon’s portrait was $35 million.


The consignors, the auction house said in a statement, “have reluctantly decided on a temporary pause in the sale process, due to ongoing discussions on their side”. Despite this, however, and “given the excitement with which the Velázquez has been received thus far”, Sotheby’s said both sides “look forward to offering this exceptional painting for sale in the near future”.


las meninas
“The Maids of Honour”, between 1656 and 1657, via Wikimedia Commons


Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, Knight of the Order of Santiago (baptized 6 June 1599 – 6 August 1660) was a Spanish painter, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV of Spain and Portugal, and of the Spanish Golden Age. He was an individualistic artist of the Baroque period (c. 1600–1750). He began to paint in a precise tenebrist style, later developing a freer manner characterized by bold brushwork.



















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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.