Absorbing the workings and psychology of the royal court to portrait the Spanish royal family in an unprecedented documentary fashion and aristocratic elegance, the Spanish Baroque Era painter, Juan Carreño de Miranda, is considered the most important Spanish court painter of the Baroque period after Diego Velázquez.
Admired for his originality and sensitivity, Carreño was born on March 25, 1614, in Avilés in Asturias. In 1623, his family moved to Madrid where he began his art training in the late 1620s, first studying under Pedro de las Cuevas and Bartolomé Roman.
Carreño soon received important commissions, including several pieces for the cloister of Doña María de Aragón in the cathedral, El Rosario. Carreño's early projects gained the attention of Diego Velázquez. In 1658, he assisted Velázquez in the decoration of the Alcázar in Madrid and the other royal palaces.
Carreño's strong work put him next in line for a position as court painter and in 1669 he was appointed painter to King Charles ll. Two years later, after the death of Sebastian de Herrera in 1671, Carreño became the official painter of the queen.
Although Carreño is known primarily as a portraitist, he also painted many religious works in oil and fresco that reveal a unique Baroque sensibility. Such works as his masterpiece, ‘Founding of the Trinitarian Order (1666), are marked by mastery of execution, subtle interplay of light and shadow, and inventiveness of scene.
Following the tradition of Velázquez’ court portraits, Carreño painted many pictures of the queen mother, Mariana of Austria, and traced in oil the decline of Charles ll from a handsome Child to a decrepit old man. Carreño also painted portraits of many other people in the court, with more movement and liveliness. The portraits of the Duke of Pastrana and the Russian ambassador Potemkin are veritable masterpieces.