Esteve y Marques enjoyed a successful early career as a court painter and society portraitist, working as an assistant to the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya before becoming court painter to King Charles IV. The young subject of this portrait is Juan Maria Osorio, one of three sons of Don Vicente Osorio Moscoso Fernandez de Cordoba, the 13th count of Altamira, who also commissioned multiple family portraits from Goya. Esteve and Goya often shared aristocratic patrons, and there are also portraits of the count and his wife attributed to Esteve. The portrait of Juan Maria is somewhat static in execution, the subject lacking vigor and psychological intensity in Esteve’s depiction. Yet some of the stiffness of this portrait may be due to the fact that this work was probably a posthumous portrait of Juan Maria, who died in 1785 at the age of five.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.