Diego Velazquez

by Weston Lenker


Born Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez in 1599; his baptism was on June 6, 1599. He was born in Seville, Spain. His father had noble Portugal blood in him. He started his artistic career by first being tutored by Herrera"El Viejo"(meaning "the elder"). In 1610, he was apprenticed under Francisco Pacheco. He passed the artist's guide exam in 1617. Two years later, at the age of 19, he was married to Juana Pacheco, which was the daughter of Francisco Pacheco (former teacher of Velazquez and now admirer). She surrounded Diego with men of knowledge, status, and ideas, and soon his studio became a place of growing literary and philosophical discussions. After his marriage he moved to Madrid, Spain. His painting was largely influenced by the dark paintings showing inclination to have more natural themes. Velazquez usually had a sinister and obscure style much like that of Caravaggio. In 1622, Diego went with his disciple and servant Diego Mendrado to see El Escorial where he met the writer Luis de Gongora, of which he paints a portrait. In 1623, Velazquez again went to Madrid, but this time to paint a painting of the Royal Family. During this trip, he painted portraits for Fonseca and Philip IV. After the finishing of Philip's portrait, Philip IV declared Velazquez the Royal Chamber artist (court painter) and became Diego's patron. While in the court, he studied many masterpieces from the king's collection. In 1628, he guided Rubens through the king's collection. Rubens influenced Velazquez to begin to paint mythological scenes. In 1629, Velazquez traveled to Venice and Rome, Italy to copy masterpieces. By 1643, Velazquez was moved to an administrative position, due to the fall of Count-Duke of Olivares. This created a high point of his work. In 1649, Diego returned to Italy to buy paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and Paolo Veronese, and to purchase paintings to expand the king's collection. He also gave up his gloomy tendacies after this visit and the knowledge of the rich chromatism of the Venetian school. From 1656 to 1658, he painted some of his most famous paintings: "Venus of the Mirror", "The Meninas", and "Las Hilanderas". In 1660, he painted the wedding of Infanta Maria Theresa to Louis XIV of France. He contracted a fever from his labors of this event and died on August 6, 1660.

Thoughts of His Works During Life

His portraits are considered equal quality to those of Titian and Anthony Van Dyck. Diego's art earned him rivalry to painters like Carducho (mainly the painters of Madrid). After his death, there was a great void in Spain's art since Velazquez had no followers or school to maintain his style.

Thoughts of His Works After Death

He was called the "noblest and most commanding man among the artists of his country." No painter has surpassed him in his ability to grasp essential features and fix them on a canvas with a few easy strokes. It has been said that, "His men and women seem to breathe; his horses are full of action and his dogs of life." Due to his great skill of merging light, color, rhythm of line, mass, and space, he has been called "the painter's painter." He is the group of Sevillian artists of the first generation of the 17th century baroque style. He has directly or indirectly led later painters and artists to make original contributions to the development of art. Specific painters influenced by him are Francisco de Goya, Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, and James McNeill Whistler. Diego Velazquez's most famous paintings include "The Surrender of Breda", portrait of Philip IV, "The Spinners", "Las Meninas", "Pope Innocent X", "Christ at Emmaus", and the portrait of Infanta Maria Theresa. He may have had a greater influence on European art than any other painter. He was not only Spain's greatest painter, but a master of technique with his own style.

Other sites done by other students in this project about some other interesting and famous painters:

The Mexican Muralists

Pablo Picasso

Salvador Dali


Other pages on this site:

Credits page with links to sites about Velazquez

His works of art:

page one

page two

page three

page four


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