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Michel Sittow, a northern painter who was born in Estonia on the Baltic Sea but apprenticed in Bruges, was an acclaimed portraitist at the Spanish court. After Queen Isabella's death in 1504, his peripatetic career took him to several northern European centers, including Burgundy, where he probably painted this portrait.

The sitter gazes with serious mien, not at the viewer, but at an unseen point beyond the picture's frame. The ornate carpet covering the stone parapet on which his hand rests provided scholars with an important clue that led to the discovery of the object of his concentration -- a painting of the Madonna and Child, of similar dimensions, in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. In that panel a larger portion of the parapet, covered by the same carpet, appears as a support for the Christ Child. It seems certain that the Berlin and Washington panels were originally hinged together to form a devotional diptych.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that the National Gallery's portrait represents Diego de Guevara, a nobleman whose family came from Santander in northern Spain. For forty years Don Diego was a valued member of the Habsburg court in Burgundy. Supporting this identity is the embroidered cross of the Spanish Order of Calatrava on his golden doublet; after serving in numerous positions of trust in the households of Philip the Fair and Charles V, Don Diego was appointed to the wardenship of that order.

More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication Early Netherlandish Painting, which is available as a free PDF


Probably Don Diego de Guevara [d.1520], Brussels; probably heirs of Don Diego de Guevara.[1] Probably Mencía de Mendoza, Marchioness of Zenete [d. 1554], third wife of Hendrik III of Nassau and subsequently wife of Fernando de Aragon, Duke of Calabria and viceroy of Valencia, castle of Ayora, province of Valencia.[2] Infante Don Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón y Braganza [1811-1875], Pau; heirs of Don Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón y Braganza, Pau, 1876.[3] Mme. Maurer, Madrid, by 1915.[4] (Leo Blumenreich, Berlin).[5] (P. & D. Colnaghi, Ltd., London, 1929). (M. Knoedler & Co., London and New York, 1929-1930);[6] purchased March 1930 by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

A Loan Exhibition of Sixteen Masterpieces, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, 1930, no. 14.
Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1991-1992, no. 47, repro.
Hispania-Austria: Die Katholischen Könige - Maximilian I und di Anfange der Casa de Austria in Spanien, Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck (part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), July-September 1992, no. 191, repro.
Reyes Y Mecenas: Los Reyes Católicos - Maximiliano I y los Inicios de la Casa de Austria en España, Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain, March-May 1992, no. 87, repro.
Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, 2006-2007, no. 34, repro.
Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia, 2018, no. 13.

Technical Summary

The panel has been thinned, attached to a secondary panel, and cradled. An x-radiograph made in October 1949 shows a different cradle with wider members than the one now in place. The portrait is, at present, painted to the edges of the panel on all sides, but this was not originally the case. The wood and the paint surface are reconstructed at the left and right edges. Narrow, irregular strips added to either side are clearly visible in the x-radiograph. The strips are both joined to the original panel at slight angles similar to the angle of several vertical splits in the panel, which suggests that the splits and the damage necessitating the additions were caused by the same stress. In addition to the reconstructed sections of the painting on these two strips, the paint surface has also been extended to cover the original unpainted margins at top and bottom. Before these extensions the height of the painted surface was approximately 31.6 cm, as indicated by traces of a barbe. The original paint surface itself is in very good condition, apart from inpainting along the splits.

The x-radiograph also shows an important artist's change in the costume. The top of the brocade doublet was originally lower, as was the neckline of the white shirt. The shirt filled a wider square opening now partially covered by the fur collar. Since the cross of the Order of Calatrava is apparently painted over the brocade and its edges do not overlap the present placement of the fur collar, it must have been added in the course of work on the painting.


Winkler, Friedrich. "Zittoz, Miguel." In Thieme-Becker. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 36(1947):531-533.
Mayer, August L. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1922: 147.
Friedländer, Max J. "Ein neu erworbenes Madonnenbild im Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum." Amtliche Berichte aus den königlichen Kunstsammlungen 36 (1915): 179-181.
Falck, G. "Mester Michiel og Kunstmuseets Portraet of Christiern II." Kunstmuseets Åarsskrift 13-15 (1926/1928): 129-133, repro.
Friedländer, Max J. "Neues über den Meister Michiel und Juan de Flandes." Der Cicerone 21 (1929): 249, 254, fig. 253.
Siple, E. S. "Art in America-Messrs. Knoedler's Exhibition." The Burlington Magazine 55 (1929): repro. opp. 326.
"Old Masters in New York Galleries." Parnassus 2 (January 1930): 4.
Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier. "El retablo de la Reina Católica." Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueologia 6 (1930): 117.
Wilenski, R. H. "A Recent Loan Exhibition in New York (at Messrs. Knoedler's Galleries)." Apollo 11 (1930): repro. opp. 32.
Sánchez, Cantón, Francisco Javier. "El retablo de la Reina Católica (Addenda et corrigenda)." Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueologia 7 (1931): 151-152, pl. 4.
Winkler, Friedrich. "Master Michiel." Art in America 19 (1931): 248, 252, fig. 5.
Glück, Gustav. "The Henry VII in the National Portrait Gallery." The Burlington Magazine 63 (1933): 105, 107.
Post, Chandler Rathfon. A History of Spanish Painting. 14 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930-1966: 4, pt. 1:34-35.
Baldass, Ludwig. "The Portraiture of Master Michiel." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 67, no. 389 (August 1935): 77-82, pl. 1-B.
Richardson, E. P. "Three Paintings by Master Michiel." The Art Quarterly 2 (1939): 108, fig. 9.
Contreras, Juan de. Historia del arte hispánica. Barcelona, 1940: 282, fig. 279.
Johansen, Paul. "Meister Michel Sittow, Hofmaler der Königin Isabella von Kastilien und Bürger von Reval." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 61 (1940): 1, 16-18, fig. 5.
De Tolnay, Charles. "Flemish Paintings in the National Gallery of Art." Magazine of Art 34 (April 1941): 187, 189, 200, fig. 19.
Held, Julius S. "Masters of Northern Europe, 1430-1660, in the National Gallery." Art News 40, no. 8 (June 1941): 12, 15, repro.
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 185-186, no. 46, as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava by Miguel Sithium.
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 240, repro. 40, as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava by Miguel Sithium.
Winkler, Friedrich. "Neuentdeckte Altniederländer III: Michiel Sittow." Pantheon 31 (1943): 99, fig. 4.
Benesch, Otto. The Art of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. Cambridge, Mass., 1945: 75, fig. 42.
Weinberger, Martin. "Notes on Maître Michiel." The Burlington Magazine 90 (1948): 248.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 59, repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
Haverkamp-Begemann, Egbert. "Juan de Flandes y los reyes católicos." Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueologia 25 (1952): 241.
Kehrer, Hugo. Deutschland in Spanien: Beziehung, Einfluss, und Abhängigkeit. Munich, 1953: 138, fig. 69.
Gaya Nuño, Juan Anotonio. La pintura española fuera de España: historia y catàlogo. Madrid, 1958: 305, no. 2665.
Margareta van Oostenrijk en haar hof. Exh. cat. Mechelen, 1958: 10, under no. 85.
Richardson, E. P. "Portrait of a Man in a Red Hat by Master Michiel." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 38 (1958/1959): 80.
Puyvelde, Leo van. La peinture flamande au siècle de Bosch et Breughel. Paris, 1962: 355-356, pl. 41.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 304, repro.
Eisler, Colin T. "The Sittow Assumption." Art News 64 (September, 1965): 52-53, fig. 8.
Pauwells, H., H. R. Hoetink, and S. Herzog. Jan Gossaert genaamd Mabuse. Exh. cat. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 1965: 69, under no. 5.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 123, as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
Gudlaugsson, S. J. "Sittow (Zittoz)." In Kindlers Malerei Lexikon, edited by Germain Bazin, et al. 6 vols. Zurich, 1964-1971. Zürich, 1966: 5:363.
Steppe, J. K. "Jheronimus Bosch. Bijdrage tot de histor. en de ikonograf. studie van zijn werk." In Jher. Bosch. Bijdragen bij gelegenheid van de herdenkstentoonstelling te 's-Hertogensbosch. Eindhoven, 1967: 14, 39.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 110, repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
Osten, Gert von der, and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Harmondsworth, 1969: 142, fig. 137.
Sass, Else Kai. "A Portrait of King Christian II as a Young Prince." The Antiquaries Journal 51, part 2 (1971): 294-295.
Gilbert, Creighton. History of Renaissance Art, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Throughout Europe. New York, 1973: 366, fig. 457.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 328, repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
Lurie, Ann Tzeutschler. "The Birth and Naming of St. John the Baptist Attributed to Juan de Flandes. A Newly Discovered Panel from a Hypothetical Altarpiece." Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 63 (1976): 131.
Sass, Else Kai. "Autour de quelques portraits de Charles Quint." Oud Holland 90 (1976): 12.
Trizna, Jazeps. Primitifs flamands. Contributions. Michel Sittow, peintre revalais de l'école brugeoise (1468-1525/26). Brussels, 1976: 53-54, 61, 96-97, cat. no. 18, 105, pl. XV.
Campbell, Lorne. Review of Michel Sittow, peintre revalais de l’école brugeoise (1468-1525/1526) by Jazeps Trizna. Apollo 105 (1977): 225.
Bruyn, Josua. Review of Michel Sittow: peintre revalais de l'école brugeoise 1468-1525/26 by Jazeps Trizna. Oud Holland 92 no. 3 (1978): 214.
Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Gemäldegalerie. Catalogue of Paintings: 13th-18th Century. 2nd revised ed. Berlin-Dahlem, 1978: 414, under no. 1722.
Westrum, Geerd. Altdeutsche Malerei. Munich, 1979: 50.
Steppe, J. K. "Het overbrengen van het hart van Filips de Schone van Burgos naar de Nederlanden in 1506-1507." Biekorf. Westvlaams Archief 82 (1982): 218, repro. 212.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 125, no. 112, color repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava by Miguel Sithium.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 376, repro.
Haverkamp-Begemann, Egbert. "Paintings by Michiel Sittow Reconsidered." In Rubens and his World. Bijdragen opgedragen aan Prof. Dr. Ir. R.-A. d'Hulst. Antwerp, 1985: 4-5, 8, fig. 4.
Hand, John Oliver and Martha Wolff. Early Netherlandish Painting. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1986: 228-236, color repro. 229.
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 78, repro.
Vibert-Guigue, Françoise, ed. La Renaissance en Espagne et au Portugal. L'Histoire de l'art de Larousse series. Paris, 1997: 12-13, color repro.
Horgan, Marta. "The Golden Age of Spanish Art." Washington Parent (April 2001): 14.
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 54-55, no. 38, color repro.
Cotter, Holland. "Divine and Devotee Meet Across Hinges." Exhibition review. New York Times (December 15, 2006): 41, 44, repro.
Frinta, Mojmír S. "Observation on Michel Sittow." Artibus et historiae 30, no. 60 (2009): color fig. 2.
Weniger, Matthias. Sittow, Morros, Juan de Flandes: Drei Maler aus dem Norden am Hof Isabellas der Katholischen. Kiel, 2011: 11, 55, 57, 59, 84-90, 273, 274, 278, no. 9, fig. 22, 23, 42, color fig. 3, color plates 1b, 2d, 6b.
Colenbrander, Herman. "Jeronimus Bosch and Diego de Guevara: The 'Third' Haywain." In Jeronimus Bosch: His Patrons and his Public. Jheronimus Bosch Conference, 3rd: September 6-18, 2012, Jheronimus Bosch Art Center. 's-Hertogenbosch, 2014: 94, 95, 323, color repro.
Van Wamel, M.G. "Collectors of Paintings by Jheronimus Bosch in the Netherlands." In Jeronimus Bosch: His Patrons and his Public. Jheronimus Bosch Conference, 3rd. September 6-18, 2012, Jheronimus Bosch Art Center. 's-Hertogenbosch, 2014: 323, color repro.
Schwartz, Gary. Jheronimus: De wegen naar hemel en hel. Translated by Loekie Schwartz. Hilversum, 2016: 65, color repro.

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