Don Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660)


128.0 x 101.9 cm (50 3/8 x 40 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

William I. Koch Gallery (Gallery 250)





As court painter to Philip IV, Velázquez painted countless portraits of the king and his family, images at once majestic and human. This charming, child-size version of the traditional royal portrait may commemorate the swearing of allegiance by the nobles of Castile to the two-year-old heir to the throne. Baltasar Carlos is shown standing regally still beside one of the lively dwarves who served as jesters and companions at the Spanish court. The dwarf’s rattle and apple can be interpreted both as playthings appropriate to the prince’s age and as symbols of the orb and scepter he will someday wield as king of Spain.


Center right: A E T A T. S A N N[...] / M E N S 4


Mid-18th century, acquired in Parma by Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle (b. 1694 - d. 1758), Castle Howard, York, England [see note 1]; by descent within the family until 1900; May 1, 1900, sold by George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle (b. 1843 - d. 1911), Castle Howard, to Messrs. Lawrie and Co., London, for Knoedler and Co., London and Paris (stock no. 2583); October, 1900, shipped to Knoedler and Co., New York (stock no. 9285) [see note 2]; 1901, sold by Knoedler to the MFA for $80,000. (Accession Date: February 2, 1901)

[1] The provenance was provided by Knoedler at the time of the painting's acquisition. The painting was attributed to Correggio until the 19th century, and was thought to represent the Duke of Parma. It was first recorded at Castle Howard in 1769, according to notes from the Keeper of Textiles at Castle Howard (September, 1983; in the MFA curatorial file).

[2] Information about the Knoedler transactions was provided by the Getty Research Institute. Online, see the Getty Provenance Index, M. Knoedler and Co. records, PI record number K-14822 (Stock book 5, no. 9285, p. 28).

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund