Velazquez, Diego

   The most important Baroque master in Spain. Velázquez was born in Seville to a family from the lesser nobility. He studied under Francisco Pacheco, marrying his daughter in 1618. Pacheco was not a talented painter, but he was interested in theory and surrounded himself with scholars and poets with whom Velázquez gained contacts. In his Sevillian period, Velázquez painted mainly bodegones, among these the Old Woman Cooking Eggs (1618; Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland) and the Water Carrier of Seville (1619; London, Wellington Museum). In 1622, he went to Madrid in the hopes of becoming King Philip IV's court painter. At first, he was not successful, yet in the following year he tried again and was in fact appointed to the king's court. From this point on he devoted himself primarily to portraiture, also creating some mythologies and religious paintings.
   At the Madrid royal palace, Velázquez had the opportunity to study the works in the king's collection, including the many paintings by Titian. In response, Velazquez loosened his brushwork and began incorporating the landscape into some of his works, as exemplified by Los Borrachos (1628; Madrid, Prado), a bacchic scene with a reclining satyr taken directly from Titian. When Velazquez was painting this work, Peter Paul Rubens arrived in Madrid, sent there on diplomatic mission by Archduchess Isabella of Flanders, the Spanish king's aunt. Velazquez and Rubens immediately struck up a friend-ship and together they studied carefully the art of the Venetians in the king's collection.
   In 1629, Velazquez traveled to Italy, spending most of his stay in Rome, but also stopping in Genoa, Venice, and Milan. After this trip, he acquired greater confidence and his artistic abilities improved in great measure. In 1635, he painted his famed Surrender at Breda (Madrid, Prado) for the Hall of Realms in the Palace of El Buen Retiro. He in fact also directed the decoration of this room, granting commissions to other masters and contributing five portraits of the royal family. His Mars (c. 1639-1641; Madrid, Prado) he painted for the decoration of the Torre de la Parada, the royal hunting lodge, and, in 1648, he rendered the Rokeby Venus (London, National Gallery) for the Marquis of Carpio and Heliche.
   Velazquez' most striking and original works are the Fable of Arachne, a mythology witnessed by two Spanish ladies, and Las Meninas (both 1656; Madrid, Prado), a group portrait of members of the royal court, including Velazquez himself. The first presents women in the foreground spinning and carding wool in preparation for weaving. In the background the fable of Arachne unfolds where she challenges the goddess Minerva to a weaving contest (which she ultimately loses and is transformed into a spider doomed to spin webs for the rest of her existence). In the background is Titian's Rape of Europa, made to look like a tapestry as the Ovidian fable specifies that this was the subject of the tapestries the two women wove. The second work shows Velazquez himself engaged in the act of painting in front of a large canvas, perhaps a portrait of the Infanta Margarita, Philip IV's daughter, who appears in the foreground with her maids of honor, dwarfs, chambermaids, and other attendants. The reflection in the background mirror is that of the king and his consort, which raises questions as to whether the artist is in fact painting the portrait of Margarita or the royal couple. Have the royal couple just entered the room and interrupted the scene? And why is the viewer placed where the king and queen stand outside the picture? Velazquez's studio has been identified as the place where the scene unfolds, which would denote that his work wishes to ennoble the act of painting and the artist's own social standing, as the implication is that royalty comes to him and not the other way around. Velazquez did in fact exert great effort in asserting his nobility and it was recognized soon after he painted Las Meninas. In the work, he wears the cross of Santiago, an order to which only nobles could belong. Legend has it that the king himself added the cross to the painting when the honor of entering the order was granted to Velazquez.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Velazquez, Diego — (Rodriguez e Silva Y) (6/6/1599 Seville 8/7/1660 Madrid) (Spain); aka Silva y Velazquez, Diego Rodriguez de    Baroque painter and portraitist. One of the most important Spanish artist of the 17th century. Trained under Francisco de Herrera and… …   Dictionary of erotic artists: painters, sculptors, printmakers, graphic designers and illustrators

  • Velázquez, Diego — ▪ Spanish painter Introduction in full  Diego Rodríguez de Silva Velázquez   baptized June 6, 1599, Sevilla, Spain died August 6, 1660, Madrid       the most important Spanish painter of the 17th century, a giant of Western art.       Velázquez… …   Universalium

  • Velázquez, Diego — ► (1465 1524) Conquistador español. Acompañó a Cristóbal Colón en su segundo viaje (1493) y, en 1511, fue encargado por Diego Colón de someter la isla de Cuba; en la misma fundó varias poblaciones (La Habana, Santiago y Matanzas, entre otras) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Velazquez, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y — • Artist s biography by Louis Gillet Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Velázquez, Diego (Rodríguez de Silva) — (baptized June 6, 1599, Sevilla, Spain died Aug. 6, 1660, Madrid) Spanish painter. He was apprenticed to Francisco Herrera the Elder before being trained by Francisco Pacheco. His early works were mostly religious or genre scenes. After arriving… …   Universalium

  • Velázquez, Diego (Rodríguez de Silva) — (bautizado el 6 de junio, 1599, Sevilla, España–6 ago. 1660, Madrid). Pintor español. Fue aprendiz de Francisco Herrera el Viejo antes de formarse con Francisco Pacheco. Sus obras iniciales fueron en su mayoría religiosas o escenas de género.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y — ► (1599 1660) Pintor español. La trayectoria de Velázquez, después de las obras de aprendizaje (esp. bodegones), siguió la línea de La adoración de los reyes (1621?), Los borrachos (1628), La fragua de Vulcano (1632?), La rendición de Breda (1632 …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Velázquez, Diego Rodríguezde Silva y — Ve·láz·quez (və läsʹkĕs, bĕ läthʹkĕth), Diego Rodríguez de Silva y. 1599 1660. Spanish painter whose works, including portraits, notably of Pope Innocent X (1650), historical scenes, such as The Surrender of Breda (1635), still lifes, and genre… …   Universalium

  • Diego Velázquez — Velázquez redirects here. For other people with the surname, see Velazquez. Diego Velázquez Self portrait of Diego V …   Wikipedia

  • Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez —     Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez     Spanish painter, b. at Seville 5 June, 1599 (the certificate of baptism is dated 6 June); d. at Madrid, 7 August, 1660. His father,… …   Catholic encyclopedia

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