Juan Carreño de Miranda
Spanish artist



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Juan Carreño de Miranda
Spanish artist
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Birth Date

March 25, 1614

Death Date

October 03, 1685

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

Juan Carreño de Miranda was the chillest bro in 17th century Spain. Or maybe pathologically bashful.

On paper, Carreño had a leg up in life. Family was noble, and both father and uncle were painters. Every art teacher he had refused to teach him because he was too talented. He ended up succeeding none other than Diego Velázquez as court painter to the Spanish monarch. But the Carreño de Miranda family was broke as a joke. Papi and tio Carreño had no painterly reputation to speak of. Juanito had to crawl up from nothing and build a legacy of his own making.

As such, Carreño didn't have the funds to travel. So, he got by with a little help from his friends. Velázquez got him access to the royal collections so Juan gained great influence from Peter Paul Rubens and Titian without having to leave the homeland. After study, he'd work so fast and furious he'd forget to eat for stretches at a time. He kept things real cool with his fellow painters, making sure to have more friends than enemies.

For real, Juan was probably one of the most popular guys around. Kind of like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. Once, Utande, a little known artist, painted a commission for a group of Carmelite nuns. Ol' Utande asked for 100 ducats for the painting and the nuns felt it was a little steep. So, Utande brought the painting by Carreño and asked for a touch up. Something to sweeten the pot. In exchange, Utande gave Carreño a tub of honey. So, Carreño redoes the painting in exchange for a condiment and the nuns pay Utande 200 ducats. Shower him with that sweet, sweet nun praise. Carreño didn't try to move in on the credit or the money. Because: He was just that kind of guy.

Carreño had a great life as court painter. The young Habsburg King Charles II was Juan's biggest fan (it is super cool when the king is technically your immediate supervisor). King Charles wasn't exactly handsome. He had what's known as the "Habsburg jaw." A real swipe left kind of face resulting from generations of inbreeding. Keeping the bloodline pure doesn't exactly keep the genetics poppin'. In any case, Carreño knew how to take his Island of Misfit Toys monarch and imbue a sense of regality and grace in his portraits. Eventually, King Charles offered Carreño a knighthood and the Cross of the Order of Santiago. Basically the Medal of Honor. Carreño refused. He didn't feel worthy of the recognition. So cool.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Juan Carreño de Miranda

Juan Carreño de Miranda (25 March 1614 — 3 October 1685) was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period.


Born in Avilés in Asturias, son of a painter with the same name, Juan Carreño de Miranda. His family moved to Madrid in 1623, and he trained in Madrid during the late 1620s as an apprentice to Pedro de las Cuevas and Bartolomé Román. He came to the notice of Velázquez for his work in the cloister of Doña María de Aragón and in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary (Iglesia de la Virgen del Rosario), Marlofa, La Joyosa.

In 1658, Carreño was hired as an assistant on a royal commission to paint frescoes in the Alcázar of Madrid; later destroyed in the fire of 1734. In 1671, upon the death of Sebastián de Herrera, he was appointed court painter to the queen (pintor de cámara) and began to paint primarily portraits. He refused to be knighted in the Order of Santiago, saying "Painting needs no honors, it can give them to the whole world". He is mainly recalled as a painter of portraits. His main pupils were Mateo Cerezo, Juan Martín Cabezalero, José Jiménez Donoso and José de Ledesma. He died in Madrid.

Noble by descent, he had an understanding of the workings and psychology of the royal court as no painter before him, making his portraits of the Spanish royal family in an unprecedented documentary fashion. Most of his work are portraits of the royal family and court, though there are some altarpieces, early works commissioned mainly by the church.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Juan Carreño de Miranda.