|Birth Day:||June 6, 1599|
|Death Date:||Aug 6, 1660 (age 61)|
|Birth Place:||Seville, Spain|
Spanish Golden Age artist who was a portrait painter for the Spanish royal family, famous Europeans, and commoners. Diego Velázquez was admired by many realist and impressionist painters like Edouard Manet.
As per our current Database, Diego Velázquez died on Aug 6, 1660 (age 61).
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Diego Velázquez entered the art world at age 12 as an apprentice with the famed Francisco Pacheco. Diego Velázquez was mentored by Pacheco for five years, learning proportion, perspective, and direct realism from him.
Raised in modest circumstances, he showed an early gift for art, and was apprenticed to Francisco Pacheco, an artist and teacher in Seville. An early-18th-century biographer, Antonio Palomino, said Velázquez studied for a short time under Francisco de Herrera before beginning his apprenticeship under Pacheco, but this is undocumented. A contract signed on September 17, 1611, formalized a six-year apprenticeship with Pacheco backdated to December 1610, and it has been suggested that Herrera may have substituted for a traveling Pacheco between December 1610 and September 1611.
On April 23, 1618, Velázquez married Juana Pacheco (June 1, 1602 – August 10, 1660), the daughter of his teacher. She had two daughters. The elder, Francisca de Silva Velázquez y Pacheco (1619–1658), married painter Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo at the Church of Santiago in Madrid on August 21, 1633; the younger, Ignacia de Silva Velázquez y Pacheco, born in 1621, died in infancy.
Velázquez had established his reputation in Seville by the early 1620s. He traveled to Madrid in April 1622, with letters of introduction to Don Juan de Fonseca, chaplain to the King. Velázquez was not allowed to paint the new king, Philip IV, but portrayed the poet Luis de Góngora at the request of Pacheco. The portrait showed Góngora crowned with a laurel wreath, which Velázquez later painted over. He returned to Seville in January 1623 and remained there until August.
In December 1622, Rodrigo de Villandrando, the king's favorite court painter, died. Velázquez received a command to come to the court from Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, the powerful minister of Philip IV. He was offered 50 ducats (175 g of gold) to defray his expenses, and he was accompanied by his father-in-law. Fonseca lodged the young painter in his home and sat for a portrait, which, when completed, was conveyed to the royal palace. A portrait of the king was commissioned, and on August 30, 1623, Philip IV sat for Velázquez. The portrait pleased the king, and Olivares commanded Velázquez to move to Madrid, promising that no other painter would ever paint Philip's portrait and all other portraits of the king would be withdrawn from circulation. In the following year, 1624, he received 300 ducats from the king to pay the cost of moving his family to Madrid, which became his home for the remainder of his life.
The Prince of Wales (afterwards Charles I) arrived at the court of Spain in 1623. Records indicate that he sat for Velázquez, but the picture is now lost.
In 1627, Philip set a competition for the best painters of Spain with the subject to be the expulsion of the Moors. Velázquez won. Recorded descriptions of his painting (destroyed in a fire at the palace in 1734) say it depicted Philip III pointing with his baton to a crowd of men and women being led away by soldiers, while the female personification of Spain sits in calm repose. Velázquez was appointed gentleman usher as reward. Later he also received a daily allowance of 12 réis, the same amount allotted to the court barbers, and 90 ducats a year for dress.
In September 1628, Peter Paul Rubens was positioned in Madrid as an emissary from the Infanta Isabella, and Velázquez accompanied him to view the Titians at the Escorial. Rubens, who demonstrated his brilliance as painter and courtier during the seven months of the diplomatic mission, had a high opinion of Velázquez but had no significant influence on his painting. He did, however, galvanize Velázquez's desire to see Italy and the works of the great Italian masters.
In 1629, Velázquez received 100 ducats for the picture of Bacchus (The Triumph of Bacchus), also called Los Borrachos (The Drunks), a painting of a group of men in contemporary dress paying homage to a half-naked ivy-crowned young man seated on a wine barrel. Velázquez's first mythological painting, it has been interpreted variously as a depiction of a theatrical performance, as a parody, or as a symbolic representation of peasants asking the god of wine to give them relief from their sorrows. The style shows the naturalism of Velázquez's early works slightly touched by the influence of Titian and Rubens.
In 1629, Velázquez was given permission to spend a year and a half in Italy. Though this first visit is recognized as a crucial chapter in the development of his style—and in the history of Spanish Royal Patronage, since Philip IV sponsored his trip—few details and specifics are known of what the painter saw, whom he met, how he was perceived and what innovations he hoped to introduce into his painting.
He traveled to Venice, Ferrara, Cento, Loreto, Bologna, and Rome. In 1630 he visited Naples to paint the portrait of Maria Anna of Spain, and there he probably met Ribera. The major works from his first Italian period are Joseph's Bloody Coat brought to Jacob (1629–30) and Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan (1630), both of which reveal his ambition to rival the Italians as a history painter in the grand manner. The two compositions of several nearly life-sized figures have similar dimensions, and may have been conceived as pendants—the biblical scene depicting a deception, and the mythological scene depicting the revelation of a deception. As he had done in The Triumph of Bacchus, Velázquez presented his characters as contemporary people whose gestures and facial expressions were those of everyday life. Following the example of Bolognese painters such as Guido Reni, Velázquez painted Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan on canvas prepared with a light gray ground rather than the dark reddish ground of all his earlier works. The change resulted in a greater luminosity than he had previously achieved, and he made the use of light-gray grounds his regular practice.
Velázquez returned to Madrid in January 1631. That year he completed the first of his many portraits of the young prince, beginning with Prince Balthasar Charles with a Dwarf (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts). ln portraits such as Equestrian portrait of prince Balthasar Charles (1635), Velázquez depicts the prince looking dignified and lordly, or in the dress of a field marshal on his prancing steed. In one version, the scene is in the riding school of the palace, the king and queen looking on from a balcony, while Olivares attends as master of the horse to the prince.
Velázquez's son-in-law Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo had succeeded him as usher in 1634, and Mazo himself had received a steady promotion in the royal household. Mazo received a pension of 500 ducats in 1640, increased to 700 in 1648, for portraits painted and to be painted, and was appointed inspector of works in the palace in 1647.
The sculptor Juan Martínez Montañés modeled a statue on one of Velázquez's equestrian portraits of the king (painted in 1636; now lost) which was cast in bronze by the Florentine sculptor Pietro Tacca and now stands in the Plaza de Oriente in Madrid. Velázquez was in close attendance to Philip, and accompanied him to Aragon in 1644, where the artist painted a portrait of the monarch in the costume as he reviewed his troops in Fraga.
Elisabeth of France had died in 1644, and the king had married Mariana of Austria, whom Velázquez now painted in many attitudes. In 1652 he was specially chosen by the king to fill the high office of aposentador mayor, which imposed on him the duty of looking after the quarters occupied by the court—a responsible function which was no sinecure and one which interfered with the exercise of his art. Yet far from indicating any decline, his works of this period are amongst the highest examples of his style.
When he set out in 1649, he was accompanied by his assistant Juan de Pareja who at this point in time was a slave and who had been trained in painting by Velázquez. Velázquez sailed from Málaga, landed at Genoa, and proceeded from Milan to Venice, buying paintings of Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese as he went. At Modena he was received with much favor by the duke, and here he painted the portrait of the duke at the Modena gallery and two portraits that now adorn the Dresden gallery, for these paintings came from the Modena sale of 1746.
In 1650 in Rome Velázquez also painted a portrait of Juan de Pareja, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, USA. This portrait procured his election into the Accademia di San Luca. Purportedly Velázquez created this portrait as a warm-up of his skills before his portrait of the Pope. It captures in great detail Pareja's countenance and his somewhat worn and patched clothing with an economic use of brushwork. In November 1650, Juan de Pareja was freed by Velázquez.
From February 1650, Philip repeatedly sought Velázquez's return to Spain. Accordingly, after visiting Naples—where he saw his old friend Jose Ribera—and Venice, Velázquez returned to Spain via Barcelona in 1651, taking with him many pictures and 300 pieces of statuary, which afterwards were arranged and catalogued for the king.
Velázquez was born in Seville, Spain, the first child of Juan Rodriguez de Silva, a notary, and Jerónima Velázquez. He was baptized at the church of St. Peter in Seville on Sunday, June 6, 1599. The baptism most likely occurred a few days or weeks after his birth. His paternal grandparents, Diogo da Silva and Maria Rodrigues, were Portuguese and had moved to Seville decades earlier. When Velázquez was offered knighthood in 1658 he claimed descent from the lesser nobility in order to qualify; in fact, however, his grandparents were tradespeople, and possibly Jewish conversos. As was customary in Andalusia, Velázquez usually used his mother's surname.
It is said the king painted the honorary Cross of Saint James of the Order of Santiago on the breast of the painter as it appears today on the canvas. However, Velázquez did not receive this honor of knighthood until three years after execution of this painting. Even the King of Spain could not make his favorite a belted knight without the consent of the commission established to inquire into the purity of his lineage. The aim of these inquiries would be to prevent the appointment to positions of anyone found to have even a taint of heresy in their lineage—that is, a trace of Jewish or Moorish blood or contamination by trade or commerce in either side of the family for many generations. The records of this commission have been found among the archives of the Order of Santiago. Velázquez was awarded the honor in 1659. His occupation as plebeian and tradesman was justified because, as painter to the king, he was evidently not involved in the practice of "selling" pictures.
In 1660 a peace treaty between France and Spain was consummated by the marriage of Maria Theresa with Louis XIV, and the ceremony took place on the Island of Pheasants, a small swampy island in the Bidassoa. Velázquez was charged with the decoration of the Spanish pavilion and with the entire scenic display. He attracted much attention from the nobility of his bearing and the splendor of his costume. On June 26 he returned to Madrid, and on July 31 he was stricken with fever. Feeling his end approaching, he signed his will, appointing as his sole executors his wife and his firm friend named Fuensalida, keeper of the royal records. He died on August 6, 1660. He was buried in the Fuensalida vault of the church of San Juan Bautista, and within eight days his wife Juana was buried beside him. This church was destroyed by the French around 1809, so his place of interment is now unknown.
Velázquez, through his daughter Francisca de Silva Velázquez y Pacheco (1619–1658), is an ancestor of the Marquesses of Monteleone, including Enriquetta (Henrietta) Casado de Monteleone (1725–1761) who in 1746 married Heinrich VI, Count Reuss zu Köstritz (1707–1783). Through them are descended a number of European royalty, among them King Felipe VI of Spain through his mother Sophia of Greece and Denmark, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, King Albert II of Belgium, Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein, and Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
Velázquez is the most influential figure in the history of Spanish portraiture. Although he had few immediate followers, Spanish court painters such as his son-in-law Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo and Juan Carreño de Miranda took inspiration from his work. Mazo closely mimicked his style and many paintings and copies by Mazo were formerly attributed to Velázquez. Velázquez's reputation languished in the eighteenth century, when Spanish court portraiture was dominated by artists of foreign birth and training. Towards the end of the century, his importance was increasingly recognized by intellectuals close to the Spanish court—an essay published In 1781 by Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos said of Velázquez that "when he died, the glory of Painting in Spain died with him." In 1778, Goya made a set of etchings after paintings by Velázquez, as part of a project by the Count of Floridablanca to produce prints of paintings in the Royal Collection. Goya's free copies reveal a searching engagement with the older master's work, which remained a model for Goya for the rest of his career.
Velázquez's work was little known outside of Spain until the nineteenth century. His paintings mostly escaped being stolen by the French marshals during the Peninsular War. In 1828, Sir David Wilkie wrote from Madrid that he felt himself in the presence of a new power in art as he looked at the works of Velázquez, and at the same time found a wonderful affinity between this artist and the British school of portrait painters, especially Henry Raeburn. He was struck by the modern impression pervading Velázquez's work in both landscape and portraiture.
The respect with which twentieth-century painters regard Velázquez's work attests to its continuing importance. Pablo Picasso paid homage to Velázquez in 1957 when he recreated Las Meninas in 44 variations, in his characteristic style. Although Picasso was concerned that his reinterpretations of Velázquez's painting would be seen merely as copies rather than unique representations, the enormous works—including the largest he had produced since Guernica in 1937—obtained a position of importance in the canon of Spanish art.
Salvador Dalí, as with Picasso in anticipation of the tercentennial of Velázquez's death, created in 1958 a work entitled Velázquez Painting the Infanta Margarita With the Lights and Shadows of His Own Glory. The color scheme shows Dalí's serious tribute to Velázquez; the work also functioned, as in Picasso's case, as a vehicle for the presentation of newer theories in art and thought—nuclear mysticism, in Dalí's case.
In the 1966 book Les Mots et Les Choses (The Order of Things), philosopher Michel Foucault devotes the opening chapter to a detailed analysis of Las Meninas. He describes the ways in which the painting problematizes issues of representation through its use of mirrors, screens, and the subsequent oscillations that occur between the image's interior, surface, and exterior.
In 2009, the Portrait of a Man in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had long been associated with the followers of Velázquez' style of painting, was cleaned and restored. It was found to be by Velázquez himself, and the features of the man match those of a figure in the painting "the Surrender of Breda". The newly cleaned canvas may therefore be a study for that painting. Although the attribution to Velázquez is regarded as certain, the identity of the sitter is still open to question. Some art historians regard this new study to be a self-portrait by Velázquez.
In 2010 it was reported that a damaged painting long relegated to a basement of the Yale University Art Gallery might be an early work by Velázquez. Thought to have been given to Yale in 1925, the painting has previously been attributed to the 17th-century Spanish school. Some scholars are prepared to attribute the painting to Velázquez, though the Prado Museum in Madrid is reserving judgment. The work, which depicts the Virgin Mary being taught to read, will be restored by conservators at Yale.
In October 2011 it was confirmed by art historian Dr. Peter Cherry of Trinity College Dublin through x-ray analysis that a portrait found in the UK in the former collection of the 19th-century painter Matthew Shepperson is a previously unknown work by Velázquez. The portrait is of an unidentified man in his fifties or sixties, who could possibly be Juan Mateos, the Master of the Hunt for Velázquez's patron, King Philip IV of Spain. The painting measures 47 x 39 cm and was sold at auction on December 7, 2011, for £3,000,000.
Currently, Diego Velázquez is 421 years, 11 months and 5 days old. Diego Velázquez will celebrate 422nd birthday on a Sunday 6th of June 2021.
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