Agustín Esteve y Marques (Spanish, 1753-c. 1820)
oil on canvas, Framed: 143.81 x 107.63 x 6.35 cm (56 9/16 x 42 5/16 x 2 1/2 inches); Unframed: 120.00 x 84.00 cm (47 3/16 x 33 1/16 inches). Gift of the Hanna Fund 1946.431
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 thirteenth 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 the Cleveland 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.
--Anna-Claire Stinebring (November 2009)