Alonso Sanchez Coelho is an artist born in Spain and spent part of his life in Portugal. He became known as a portrait painter who successfully worked at the court of King Philip II.
It is believed that Coelho was born in 1531, but there is no exact data on this topic. He spent all his childhood in Portugal, where his artistic talents and abilities did not go unnoticed. Juan III, king of Portugal, sent the gifted young man to study in Flanders, which at that time was the birthplace of many famous painting masters.
In this country, a young man lived in the palace of Cardinal Granvela and studied with the artist Anthony Mohr, whose patron was a clergyman. In 1550, Coelho returned to Portugal to the court of Juan III, periodically meeting with his teacher.
Five years later, the artist returns to his homeland and continues to study with Mora. After his hasty departure, he becomes a court painter. He held this position until his death in 1588.
At court, the masters loved and welcomed, the king even baptized two of his children. After the artist’s death, his own student, Juan Pantoch de la Cruz, took his place.
After the master there were quite a few paintings, some of which are in the royal residence - in Escurial. But researchers relate to his works on religious subjects condescendingly, not considering them something outstanding.
But the portrait art of Coelho is worthy of close attention. Despite the static poses, explicit posing and some flaws in the image, his portraits are expressive and realistic. He was often posed by representatives of the ruling family from the Habsburg dynasty, who had never been beautiful in appearance. The artist did not embellish reality, depicting the faces of high-ranking persons as they really looked.
He created a peculiar canon of the Spanish court portrait, using a simple gray background instead of landscape or architecture. His contemporaries called him the “master of gray”, because he perfectly managed the shades of this color, which he widely used.