Museums and Art

Juan Pantoja de la Cruz - biography and paintings

Juan Pantoja de la Cruz - biography and paintings

Pantoja de la Cruz, Juan - a Spanish artist, who was the official court portrait painter for the kings of Philip II and Philip III.

The future artist was born in 1553 in Valladolid. There is very little documentary evidence of the early years of his life, so there is no reliable data either about his origin, or even the exact attribution of most of his paintings.

It is believed that he moved to Madrid from Valladolid as a teenager. In the capital, he became a student of the Spanish artist, court master portrait painter, Alonso Sanchez Coelho. According to the analysis of some local researchers, the young man could be a relative of this painter, which quite reliably explains the admission to the workshop of such a young visiting young man.

Due to the fact that Coelho de la Cruz almost did not sign his works all the time in the workshop, numerous difficulties arose in attributing works that belonged to him and his teacher. Basically, this was done in the past and the year before last, based on the results of the preserved documentation and analysis of the nature of the letter.

Only after the teacher passed away did Pantokha gain independence and began to sign his own canvases. In 1598, he became the official court painter of King Philip III. From this moment, there is detailed documentation on his work.

According to most researchers of the master’s work, his painting combines the manner of depicting faces in the spirit of Venetian artists and the very detailed, thorough and even pedantic writing out of the smallest details and details characteristic of the Flemish school. Initially, and this is natural, the style of de la Cruz's works strongly resembled the author’s handwriting of his teacher, but over time he developed an independent vision of the front portrait. It is believed that the best works of the artist are portraits of little infants. They are softer and more delicate, although they are saturated with a large number of details, like the rest of the master’s canvases.

His faces worked well, but a special feature of his portraits was still full detail. From the artist’s paintings, you can literally count the small stitches of embroidery on clothes, each pearl and gem in jewelry. With such careful work, you can simply study the history of Spanish court fashion of that period. Each fabric folds, embroidery, bow or lace are in their place and depicted with the highest possible realism. A portrait becomes close to photography - a moment frozen in time.

Nowadays, there is evidence that some of the works of the artist and his teacher do not belong to their brush, but are executed by the Italian artist Sophonisba Angvisola. She was a court painter under the Spanish king at the same time as Pantoch with Coelho. Despite some similarities in the style of painting and works on the same subject, there is no evidence that the paintings belong to one or another artist, since they were not signed by them personally.


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