Philippe Le Miere 'After Diego Velázquez royal portrait'

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For their February 1st auction, Sotheby’s was set to offer the most impressive Diego Velázquez painting to meet the market in over fifty years. If sold, the portrait of Spanish Queen Isabel de Borbón, valued at $35 million USD, would have more than doubled Velázquez's auction record. In the first weeks of January, however, it quietly disappeared from sale.

Velázquez, a master of 17th century art, is best known for his court portraiture. Queen Isabel (1632) is a sterling example, measuring over two metres in height and capturing the monarch at the height of her power, admired for her wit, intelligence and generosity. Originally it hung in the Spanish royal collection but disappeared during Napoleon's 1808 invasion, surfacing in France in 1838. After Napoleon fell from power, it was sold to a bank and book collector in West Sussex who sold it again in 1950 to its current owners.

Why Sotheby’s removed Queen Isabel from sale is a mystery. In a statement, the auction house cited “ongoing discussions” with the painting’s owners, promising its unavailability would be temporary: “[we] look forward to offering this exceptional painting for sale in the near future”, a spokesperson consoled. Speculation of a US museum's bid for Queen Isabel circled.

In his rendition of Queen Isabel, contemporary artist Philippe Le Miere draws on this still unfurling history. Velázquez is among his favourite artists and how art shifts meaning over time, a core tenet of his practice. Under Le Miere’s hand, Velázquez’s talent is honoured, the spell he places over collectors and viewers distilled. There is also a sense that this painting is still alive. Despite being forged centuries ago, Queen Isabel remains the object of desire and power, just beyond grasp.

Philippe LE MIERE (1975 - )
'After Diego Velázquez royal portrait' 2024
acrylic on canvas
Image Size: 66 x 51 cm
Dimensions: 66 x 51 cm
Signed: Signed lower right Le Miere, inscribed verso Philippe Le Miere, title and date
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Condition: Excellent
(c) The Artist or Assignee

Work of art comes unstretched and unframed to allow for safe and economical shipping. Contact us if you would like to arrange for this to be professionally framed.