Alonso Sánchez Coello (1531-1588)
This portrait of Diego de Covarrubias was painted by Alonso Sánchez Coello, the first Spanish painter to become portraitist to King Philip II. He was responsible for defining the prototype of portraiture in the representation of the Spanish monarchy, creating the genre known as "court portraiture", characterised by the distant depiction of the sitters, the meticulousness of the clothing and the presence of objects that symbolise the dignity and condition of the sitters.
Diego de Covarrubias, like his brother Antonio, held high positions in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. He is depicted wearing a white surcoat with a black cassock underneath and a black bonnet on his head. He wears a gold and emerald pectoral cross in the form of a Latin cross hanging from a white ribbon, a type of attribute used as a symbol of the dignity of bishops. At the top of the canvas is an inscription in Latin alluding to the age of the sitter at the time of the portrait, 62 years.
This is the portrait that must have served as a model for the one painted by El Greco around 1600, as it is known that Diego de Covarrubias had died in Madrid in 1577, the year El Greco arrived in Toledo.