The Ickworth Velazquez that’s one of the very greatest treasures of the National Trust

In the final part of our series looking at the National Trust's finest treasures, we look at one of the very finest paintings in the Trust's ownership.

The National Trust’s collections are not only vast, but contain objects of astonishing beauty, quality and human interest. To coincide with the Trust’s 125 anniversary, we asked nine senior curators — including national experts in painting and sculpture, textiles, furniture and decorative arts — to choose their favourite object from among those in their care.

Prince Baltasar Carlos, aged six, as a hunter by Diego Velázquez, about 1635–36, at Ickworth, Suffolk

Chosen by David Taylor, curator of Pictures and Sculpture

It’s hard not to be moved by Velázquez’s wonderful portrait of Baltasar Carlos, the beloved son and heir of Philip IV of Spain and Elizabeth of France, knowing he died of smallpox aged only 16. This is the earlier of two versions of this picture that Velázquez, the greatest portrait painter of the Spanish Golden Age, produced and it’s one of the finest pictures we have.

The little prince, cousin to both Charles II and Louis XIV, stands in the foothills of the Guadarrama Mountains with his hunting dogs, on a grey autumn day. It’s a relatively informal portrait, probably because it was designed for displaying at the exclusive Torre de la Parada hunting lodge.

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