A French record for the Spanish artist del Mazo

On 14 October 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

Velasquez's son-in-law, Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, fairly inconspicuous in the market, made a much-remarked appearance with this panoramic view of Pamplona.

Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo (ca. 1612-1667), View of Pamplona, oil on canvas, 65.5 x 132 cm.
Result: €126,000

As we learn from documentation in the Prado Museum, del Mazo's "assimilation of the style of Diego Velasquez (his teacher and then father-in-law from 1633 – Ed.) sometimes causes problems in attributing some works to the master or his pupil." Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (c. 1612-1667) came closest to the Seville artist's style above all in his portraits of prominent court and official figures, in terms of both iconography and technique. His record at auction (£193,250, Sotheby’s, London, 7 July 2011) was incidentally garnered by his full-length portrait of Velasquez. However, we know that the protection of the great master of the Spanish golden age enabled him to launch his own career in the early 1640s. He accompanied the luckless prince Baltasar Carlos (who died in 1646 at 16), to whom he taught drawing, on his visits around the kingdom. In 1657, probably encouraged by his former teacher, he travelled to Italy, where we know he visited Rome and Naples, and focused on reproducing classical architecture. On his return, this led him to produce works that were relatively atypical in 17th century Spanish painting, abandoning religious subjects in favour of portraits, copies and sometimes imaginary landscapes dotted with antique buildings enlivened by little mythological figures. His work then became more personal, showing a fairly liberated view of nature and imbued with a highly modern almost atmospheric feel. The artist is rare in the market; the Artnet site references only ten paintings formally attributed to him. In obtaining €126,000, this View of Pamplona provided his second highest price and set a French record along the way. His city views remain few and far between, the one of Zaragoza being the best-known (Prado Museum), meaning that the one here hardly went unnoticed. It sheds new light on the work of an artist who, thanks to further discoveries and studies by art historians, has proved to be far more than a simple follower.

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