The work shows Spanish monarch Ferdinand VII dressed in army and navy Captain General uniform (1792). Atop his blue and white sash sit the Golden Fleece, the great cross badge of Charles III, and the badges of the Orders of Isabella the Catholic and Saint Ferdinand.
Ferdinand VII was proclaimed King of Spain on March 19, 1808 after the fall of Godoy and the abdication of his father Charles IV. Having been summoned to Bayonne by Napoleon, he gave the crown back to his father, who handed it over to Napoleon. The latter then installed his brother Joseph as the new Spanish monarch. These events led to the War of Independence (1808–14), during which Ferdinand went into exile in Valençay (France) until 1814 when he regained the Spanish crown.
We can tell that the painting was produced after 1821 because of the differences and decorations on the uniform. The brushstrokes show great technical skill, especially in the uniform and the texture of the hands and face. This, together with the approximate date it was painted, suggest that the painter was Vicente López. López was court painter to King Ferdinand VII from 1815 and painted a range of portraits of the monarch with poses and backgrounds similar to the one at the Naval Museum of Madrid.