Water carrier of Seville

(1619; London, Wellington Museum)
   Diego Velazquez painted the Water Carrier of Seville four years before entering in the service of King Philip IV of Spain. It belongs to his Sevillian period when bodegones were his favored subjects, usually painted in the Caravaggist style. The work shows a humble street peddler of advanced age in torn clothes offering a glass of water to a customer. He is depicted with the same dignity as a priest holding the challis during the mass. The fact that there are three males in the picture at three different stages of life—one in profile, another in a three-quarter turn, and the last in a frontal pose— suggests the theme of the three ages of man—childhood, adulthood, and old age—common to the Baroque era. The painting demonstrates Velazquez's ability at rendering different textures, including the terracotta jugs, the beads of sweat on them, the transparency of the glass and water, and the fig at the bottom of the glass then thought to possess purifying properties.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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