After six years of restoration, the famous painting Equestrian Portrait of Francisco de Moncada returned to the Fine Arts Museum in Valencia. The restoration of the painting began in 2015 when this famous masterpiece was damaged by the high temperatures in the museum after the air conditioning had failed during the summer.
Van Dyck’s canvas is one of the most important paintings in the museum’s collection. This canvas was donated to the Academia de San Carlos by the Montesinos Checa and Trénor Montesinos families in 1941, to be exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts. The duplicate version of this equestrian portrait, made by Van Dyck in 1634 during his short stay in Brussels, is kept in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
As before, the Equestrian Portrait of Francisco de Moncada will have a prominent place in Room 17 on the first floor of a permanent collection dedicated to Flemish art from the 17th century. It’s the only Van Dyck work that exists in Valencia. The Prado Museum has about 25 works, including the Self-Portrait with the Endymion Porter and the Metal Serpent. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum each have one of Van Dyck’s works in their collection.
The restoration of this masterpiece was a laborous task. The painting had tears on its canvas, and it had to be restretched on the frame. The pictorial layer had cracks, with dangerously raised edges, which had already led to detachments. The surface was loaded with stucco and paint layers from the various previous restorations. The painting also had a dull and darkened colour due to the oxidation of the varnishes and bad previous restoration attempts, which had invaded part of the original painting.
Anton van Dyck made this equestrian portrait of Francisco de Moncada y Moncada (Valencia, 1586 – Goch, Germany, 1635), III Marquis of Aytona, in the autumn of 1634, when Francisco was appointed governor general of the Netherlands. The painting depicts the governor from the front, showing his full armour and a tight red band on the left, typical of the Spanish captains at the time. Thanks to Colonel Manuel Montesinos y Molina, the work has become part of the Montesinos Collection.
Van Dyck was one of the most famous Flemish painters, known for his portraits of nobility. After a long stay in Italy, he became a court painter in England and was highly valued and internationally renowned, introducing some remarkable pictorial innovations.
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