A unique landscape by artist Diego Velázquez, painted for King Philip IV of Spain, is on loan from the National Gallery in London for the first time, and is exhibited at the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy in Dorset.
La Tela Real takes pride of place in the dining room, while Kingston Lacy’s The Judgement of Solomon by Sebastiano del Piombo is on loan to the National Gallery, where it joined a major exhibition charting Sebastiano’s extraordinary friendship with Michelangelo, master of the Italian High Renaissance.
La Tela Real is a landscape scene depicting a type of boar hunt, staged by the Spanish kings on feast days and to honour special guests. The quarry was hunted within a canvas (tela) enclosure (so giving the name La Tela Real, i.e. ‘The Royal Enclosure’). Owing to the tremendous expense and labour involved, only the king could afford such a spectacle.
Identifiable figures include Philip IV, in the right mid-ground, meeting the charge of the boar. Immediately to his left is the powerful Count-Duke of Olivares (first minister to the king) and beyond him most likely the Infante Don Carlos, Philip’s brother. The king’s first wife, Isabella of Bourbon, watches the events from the comfort and safety of one of the carriages inside the enclosure.
La Tela Real is exceptional amongst Velázquez’s body of work. An extremely rare and individual landscape, it was designed around 1636-8 for The Torre de la Parada, Philip IV’s hunting lodge near Madrid. At Kingston Lacey it will be possible to enjoy an intimate encounter with this artwork, similar to that enjoyed by the king and his court in its original private, royal setting.
Moreover, it will be possible to enjoy the painting together with Kingston Lacy’s remarkable collection of Spanish paintings, assembled by William John Bankes and proudly displayed in his opulent ‘Spanish Room’. The finest works include Velázquez’s portrait of Cardinal Camillo Massimi, and a near-contemporary copy of the artist’s Las Meninas, one of the most enigmatic and famous images in the history of Western art.
To reveal the story of La Tela Real and the fascinating associations with Kingston Lacy’s own outstanding collections, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, will give a lecture looking at Velázquez as an artist along with the history surrounding Philip IV of Spain and the art of boar hunting.
The lecture will take place on 21 July. Tickets are £12 per person, with a welcome drink from 6.30pm, time to explore the state rooms at Kingston Lacy, before the lectures start at 7pm.
Tickets must be booked in advance on 0344 249 1895 or online.
Visitors can see La Tela Real on display until September. The house at Kingston Lacy opens via a timed ticket system. Tickets can be booked online.