The Meadows Museum announced last week it added a new artist to its collection, Bartolomé González y Serrano, one of King Phillip III’s first court painters and a contemporary of Diego Velázquez. The work by González y Serrano is titled Portrait of a Lady, and that’s about all we know of her. The museum calls her an “unknown noblewoman.”
Dated 1621, the portrait is one of more than 100 of royal family members, courtiers and aristocrats González y Serrano did during his career. He died six years later, after serving both Phillip III and his son Phillip IV — and having seen his fair share of history. (The imperial capital moved from Valladolid to Madrid during his lifetime. And Velázquez showed up, revolutionizing the genre of portraiture.) Most of González y Serrano’s works have stayed put in Spain, making the acquisition all the more notable.
Members of the Meadows’ advisory council chipped in to buy the painting at auction in honor of director Mark Roglán’s 20th anniversary at the museum. Christie’s reported its sale price at the equivalent of about $320,000.
It arrived at the museum after a few touch-ups from Claire Barry, the longtime conservation expert at the Kimbell who recently retired. Her “removal of yellowed varnish restored the painting’s vivid colors and delicate details,” like the precisely rendered lace collar and the subject’s facial features. A few faint moles were uncovered. As of yesterday it’s on view in the museum’s Jake and Nancy Hamon Galleries.