Diego Velázquez was a great Spanish painter of the 17th century, a brilliant master of portrait and everyday genres, who managed to skillfully merge the dramatic showiness of the Baroque with the honest frankness of realism. The work of Diego Velazquez is considered the pinnacle of the brightest era in the history of Spanish painting, called the Golden Age. His paintings both expressively and without embellishment reflected reality. No wonder he said that he prefers to be the first in the depiction of ugliness, rather than the second in the depiction of beauty.
Diego Velazquez served as court painter to King Philip IV, but, unlike many of his colleagues, he did not embellish portraits and did not shy away from “low” genre scenes. His unique handwriting was more complex than that of other naturalist painters of the Seville school. In its deep light and shadow contrasts, the influence of caravaggism is felt, in the coloristic solutions of the mature period the legacy of Titian.
Diego Velazquez gained fame in Spain during his lifetime, but later he was somewhat forgotten due to the fashion for elegant French painting baroque and rocaille. Only in the 19th century his work was appreciated and began to inspire romantics, realists and even impressionists.
Biography of Diego Velazquez
From a young age, the boy demonstrated outstanding creative abilities, and at the age of ten he began to study painting. He was not yet eighteen years old when he successfully confirmed the right to be called a master in the exam and became a member of the Seville guild of painters.
In 1623, the young man learned that the position of the court painter had become vacant at the royal court. An ambitious young man set out to conquer the courtyard. Among them was the monarch.
Philip IV was well versed in art, he himself took drawing lessons and was able to appreciate the style of the painter. Moreover: the king and Velazquez became friends. The master painted dozens of portraits of the monarch, members of his family, courtiers and representatives of the clergy.
To improve his skills, the artist traveled to Italy twice.
And there his talent did not go unnoticed. But fame comes with envy. Diego Velazquez was hated by some colleagues, considering his success undeserved. In 1627, he was even called to a creative duel: several masters decided to find out who would better depict the plot of the Reconquista era the expulsion of the Moors from Spain. Velazquez was declared the winner.
The artist was also hated by noble grandees members of the influential and prestigious Order of Santiago. The king elevated the painter to the knight of this order, which caused the wrath of the ancient aristocracy. The grandees were outraged that the “upstart” from the bottom stood on a par with them.
And yet they just envied the amazing friendship between the monarch and the artist.
However, the painter spent only a year as a knight of Santiago. In 1660, on August 6, Diego Velazquez died of a fever. Well, history has put everything in its place.
Works by Velazquez appear at the auction infrequently and go for millions of dollars. Each such lot is a sensation. In 1999, over “Saint Rufina”, which went to Christie’s for 8.9 million, art fans even got into a fight.