Juan Carreño de MIRANDA (1614–1685)
Portrait of the Dwarf Michol (Retrato del enano Michol), c. 1670-1682
Oil on canvas (óleo sobre lienzo)
Museum Purchase; Meadows Foundation Fund, 85.01
Dwarves at the Spanish Habsburg court acted not only as entertainers, but also as servants, companions, and nurses to the royal children. While a tradition of dwarf portraiture had existed in Spain for some time, it was revolutionized by Diego Velázquez, whose sensitive likenesses of jesters and dwarves strongly influenced the work of later artists, among them Juan Carreño de Miranda. The sitter here is believed to be Miguel Pol, known as “Michol,” a retainer of Charles II. His depiction with an array of birds and lapdogs suggests that he may have been the caretaker of such animals at the court; the opened pomegranate is a Habsburg emblem and may refer to Michol’s royal patron.
Desde época medieval las monarcas españoles estuvieron acompañados de enanos, bufones, “hombres de placer”, popularmente conocidos durante los siglos XVI y XVII como sabandijas de Palacio. Su función era la de entretener, hacer reír al rey, lo que se ha denominado “oficio de burlas”. No obstante algunos de ellos por su extraordinaria inteligencia desempeñaron papeles diplomáticos e importantes cargos dentro de la casa del rey.
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