Velazquez, 1599 - 1660

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velazquez was a Baroque period painter known as one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age. He painted numerous historical and cultural scenes and portraits of the Spanish royal family and notable European figures as well.

Velazquez’s work was a model for the impressionist and realist painters and even later he influenced scores of pieces by artists as Picasso or Dalí.

Juan de Pareja by Velázquez
Juan de Pareja, 1649 - 1650

Masterpiece of Velazquez

Las meninas of Velazquez, 1656

Las meninas by Velázquez detailLas meninas (The Ladies-in-Waiting), a 1656 complex and enigmatic painting, is one of the most analyzed works in Western painting and the highlight of Velazquez’s legacy. It shows a room in the Royal Alcázar of Madrid during the reign of King Philip IV. The canvas is painted with oil and shows the young Infanta Margaret Theresa surrounded by two maids os honour, two dwarfs, a dog, her chaperone and her bodyguard. Velázquez appears right behind and in the background we can see a mirror that reflects the king and the queen.

The piece has been recognised as one of the most important paintings in Western art history as well as Velázquez’s supreme achievement.

The pigments used for this work were azurite, vermilion and red lake, lead white, carbon blacks and ochres.

Las meninas by Velázquez detailAs for the interpretation, Dawson Carr says: “it suggests that art, and life, are an illusion”. Illusion and reality were huge concerns in Spain during the 17th century. Calderón de la Barca’s play Life is a Dream depict the literary equivalent os Velazquez’s painting.

"What is a life? A frenzy. What is life?
A shadow, an illusion, and a sham.
The greatest good is small; all life, it seems
Is just a dream, and even dreams are dreams."

Inocencio X by Velázquez
Inocencio X, 1649 - 1651