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Damián Goetens, financial aid de furriera de Velázquez and the adoptive family of Juan de Palafox

PhotoWikipedia/Interviewof Louis XIV and Philip IV on Pheasant Island in 1659, by Jacques Laumosnier. Museum of Tessé, Le Mans.

Damian Goetens is an example of a man-at-arms, specifically an archer, who went on to occupy high palatial positions at the Buen Retiro in sixteenth-century Spain. porter His presence as closet keeper and upholsterer at the Royal Site of the Buen Retiro is documented after his retirement in 1679. As a major tapestry maker he traveled with Velázquez in 1660 to Fuenterrabía with various tapestries to organize the submission of the Infanta in the Isla de los Faisanes (Island of the Pheasants). Justi and Colomer mention three assistants of the great painter, his son-in-law Mazo, José de Villarreal and Damián Goetens.

Damián married Juana María Sánchez Navarro, daughter of Ana Navarro, one of the adopted sisters of Juan de Palafox. As it is known and as we have remembered in several occasions when dealing with the family with which Palafox was raised and grew up until he was nine years old, it was formed by Pedro Navarro "the old one", the one who picked up in 1600 the newborn, his wife and their children. Among the latter, and therefore adopted siblings of Don Juan de Palafox, were Isabel, Andresa, who remained unmarried and served the future bishop-viceroy during his time in Madrid, Ana, who married Domingo Sánchez in Malón, when the family moved to that Aragonese town, and Pedro Navarro, son, nicknamed "el granadino"(the Granada-born).

Several children of the aforementioned Domingo Sánchez and Ana Navarro went to the Villa y Corte and two of them, later, to New Spain. At least three children were born from that marriage, Juana María, José and Juan, the latter two went to the Indies with Palafox. Of the first, we know that she married the aforementioned Damián Goetens. Her cousin Pedro Navarro Martínez de la Fresneda would take her from Fitero in 1642, due to the impossibility of going to the Court, in order to collect money and some objects that his father, Pedro Navarro San Juan sent from Mexico, where he had gone to the service of Palafox.

Continuing with the Goetens-Navarro marriage, we must remember that the documentation of the palace theater provides information. Thus, on April 24, 1672, we find the following entry in relation to a theatrical performance: "Mr. Damián Gotes, porter del Buen Retiro. The Prince, my lord, has ordered the room issue sixth, first floor, to be given to the family that will be with this role for the essay of tomorrow, Monday, the 25th of the present". Other news in relation to the same topic are dated in 1673, and in 1679 it was quotation to purpose of a enquiry of the board of Works and Forests on the jurisdiction of the mayor of the Buen Retiro and some problems of functions of palatine charges. Juana María was still alive in 1697, year in which her name appears among the persons with a seat reserved for the attendance in a theatrical function.

Palafox's protection of his adoptive family and a letter of thanks from Damien Goetens

We document Palafox's care for his adoptive sisters thanks to some accounts that don Antonio Belvis, proxy of the already bishop of Puebla de los Ángeles, sent to his master in 1642. Through them we can once again verify the protection for Ana and Andresa Navarro, who are mentioned on several occasions in the list of expenses. Thus, among the expenses on behalf of Palafox, between May 1640 and June 1642, we find the following item: "plus for the said allowances of May and April of Andresa and Ana Navarro, three hundred and sixty-six reales". In another annotation, corresponding to the dates of 1641 and 1642 we read: "more for the rations of the whole year of Andresa and Ana Navarro, two hundred ducats" and "for the rations of half a year of Andresa Navarro and Ana Navarro, one hundred ducats" . From the context of the mentioned expenses, it seems to be deduced that the two sisters resided with Palafox's relatives, perhaps in the same town of Ariza. In a letter of don Iñigo de Fuentes, procurator of the causes of Palafox in the court of Madrid, signed on June 25, 1645, he informs the bishop of Puebla: "The brothers of doctor Guijarro and the relatives of don Martin de Francia and the mother of Pedro Ferrer and the Navarros, all are with health and for the contingency that this one takes, not notice more for minor to V. E. of everything".

In a letter that we published in 2011, Goetens thanks Palafox for his protection and it includes his wife Juana María, his mother-in-law Ana whom he calls mother and her sister Andresa, the latter of whom served Palafox at the Madrid court in the 1930s. Its content is the following

"Illustrious Sir. I cannot express how happy Your Lordship's servants have been with the good news you have given us of Your Lordship's health. May God please increase it for Your Lordship as we have all needed.

By letter from my wife I have learned of the alms that Your Lordship has been kind enough to make to my mother and aunt Andresa because I kiss Your Lordship's feet because with these wars Your Majesty goes out every year in campaign and forces me to be nine and ten months of the year away from home and, although Don Luis, my lord, does me every kindness to support my house in Madrid, I can assure Your Lordship that this alms have been very necessary, for which reason we will always pray to Our Lord to keep Your Lordship for the happy years that this whole house has needed.

I dare not weary Your Lordship with news of the events of wars or other domestic things, for judging that Your Lordship will have someone to give you long news of all the trifles as Don Antonio Belvis did, God willing; but if there is no one to do it and Your Lordship would like me to do it, there can be no greater joy for me than to obey the one to whom I will acknowledge all my life to owe everything I have and will be worth in this world and I will always be at the feet of Your Lordship.

My mother and aunt Andresa and my wife are, thank God, in good health and two kiss Your Lordship's feet, praying God to bring Your Lordship to these kingdoms with the health that we have needed. May God keep Your Lordship for many years of my desire I have needed. Saragossa and September 12, 1645.

Your Lordship's servant who kisses your feet, Damian Goetens".

Final reflection and coda

The reflection on these data is obligatory and refers to the more than certain mediation or at least approval of Palafox on the marriage of Damián and Juana María. With all certainty, he knew that archer whom he would help in his palatine ascent.

Regarding the proximity to the painter Diego Velázquez, it is likely that Palafox himself was very interested. From the knowledge of both in the thirties there can be no doubt of any class. Moreover, during the stay of the court in Naples when Palafox accompanied the sister of Philip IV, between the months of July and December 1630 and coincided with Velázquez who, on that occasion, portrayed the future queen of Hungary, whom an Italian ambassador had described, years earlier, as a woman with "theface of an angel, very white skin, blond hair, rather tending to white than gold ...., the chin, a little protruding". The portrait was painted in Naples between August 13 and December 18, 1630 "to bring it to His Majesty" and would be recorded in the inventory of Velázquez's estate at his death.

In the middle of the thirties, when the construction of the Buen Retiro Palace became a reality, both the Councilor of the Indies and the painter must have had attention regular contact. Moreover, as Professor Kagan has hinted, his name has been linked to the whole program of the Salón de Reinos.


Corpus Velazqueño, vol. I, Madrid, Ministerio de Education, Cultura y Deporte, 2000.
DELEITO Y PIÑUELA, J., El rey se divierte, Madrid, Alianza, 1988.

DOMÍNGUEZ ORTIZ, A., PÉREZ SÁNCHEZ, A. E. and GALLEGO, J., Velázquez, Madrid, Ministry of Culture, 1990.

FERNÁNDEZ GRACIA, R., Juan de Palafox y Navarra et alia studia, Pamplona, Government of Navarra, 2011.

GREER, M. R. and VAREY, J. E., El teatro palaciego en Madrid 1586-1707. Study and Documents, London, Tamesis, 1997.

JUSTI, C., Velásquez y su siglo, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1953, p. 762 and COLOMER, J. L., "Paz y política, rivalidad suntuaria. Francia y España en la Isla de los Faisanes". Art and diplomacy of the Hispanic Monarchy in the 17th century. Madrid, Fernando Villaverde Ediciones, 2003.

KAGAN, R. L., "Images and Politics at the Court of Philip IV of Spain. New perspectives on the Salón de Reinos", La historia imaginada. Construcciones visuales del pasado en la Edad Moderna, Madrid, Centro de programs of study Europa Hispánica, 2008, pp. 101-119.

NAVARRO, F., MONTEROSO, C. and PORRAS, G., La nobleza en las armas: Noble guardia de arqueros, Madrid, Hidalguía, 1995.