Mid-19th-Century Spanish School

Portrait Of Francisco Agustín Silvela Y Blanco

Mid-19th-Century Spanish School

Portrait Of Francisco Agustín Silvela Y Blanco

This mid-19th-century oil painting depicts Francisco Agustín Silvela Y Blanco, the Spanish Minister of Grace and Justice.

Since this enigmatic painting arrived here, it's reminded us of why we work tirelessly to uncover the hidden depths of older works. It’s unsigned, and details of the sitter were lost to time. The only clue to its history, a gold chain bearing the word ‘Justicia’, Spanish for justice. With this intriguing lead, we discovered that the gold pendant was given to the Minister of Grace and Justice in Spain and, as the canvas appears to date to around 1840, the sitter became apparent.

Francisco Agustín Silvela Y Blanco held the role between the 12th of August and the 29th of August 1840. A short time in office, but longer than one of his predecessors, Juan Antonio Castejón, who managed just 3 days. Clearly proud of his appointment, Blanco sat for this portrait to record his success for posterity.

He wasn’t your everyday justice minister. In 1825, he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Royal Academy of Bordeaux and later studied law in Paris. As a cultured man with varied interests, he was also a professor of Humanities, of Ancient and Modern History and of Greek Language. Blanco spent many years in France before returning to Spain following the death of his father, Manuel Silvela y García de Aragón (1781-1832), an esteemed writer, lawyer and magistrate. His father sat for Francisco de Goya (1746-1828).

We’re currently in discussion with Spanish officials with a view to returning the portrait to the Ministry of Justice. But if you wish to express an interest, do let us know.

Held in a period gilt frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 27” x 32½” / 68cm x 82cm
Year of creation: 1840
Condition: Artwork presents well. Restored. Craquelure but the paint is stable. Canvas relined. Frame with some light wear.

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