Who is depicted in this Spanish portrait? No one knows for sure, although we do know the portrait shows a male figure dressed as a Catholic cardinal standing in a room of one of the royal palaces in Madrid. Since no child cardinals were named during this period, some scholars believe it might be one of the many entertainers from the royal court dressed in costume.
King Philip IV (reigned 1621-1665) appointed Juan Bautista del Mazo chief court painter in 1660, the year that Mazo’s teacher and father-in-law, Diego Velázquez, died. Be sure to see Man with a Wine Glass, a portrait of a court entertainer attributed to Velázquez, in Gallery 24.