Velazquez portraits on display

Diego Velazquez’s portrait of King Philip IV.

DALLAS — In preparing an exhibit on 17th-century artist Diego Velazquez’s early work for Spain’s King Philip IV, art historians believe they discovered that a portrait by the Spanish master at Dallas’ Meadows Museum is likely his first of his lifelong patron.

“Diego Velazquez: The Early Court Portraits” at the museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University, is the result of a partnership between the Meadows and Madrid’s famed Museo del Prado, Spain’s national art museum.

The exhibit, which the Meadows calls the most important devoted to Velazquez in the U.S. in more than two decades, will run through Jan. 13.

“What you’ll see in this exhibition is the beginning of one of the most extraordinary relationships in the history of art — that’s the relationship between young Velazquez and Philip IV,” said Gabriele Finaldi, the Prado’s deputy director for collections.

Velazquez became the king’s court painter in 1623, when he was only 24. It was a job he would hold until his death in 1660 at 61.

For the first time in four centuries, the Dallas exhibit brings together two of Velazquez’s early portraits of the king.

The exhibit features five paintings by Velazquez, including his portrait of the poet Luis de Gongora y Argote.