Diego Rodríguez de Silva Velázquez


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The Spanish Baroque painter, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, was born in Seville in 1599. He initiated his apprenticeship at the age of eleven in [Francisco Pacheco's#pintor_en#2920] workshop, where he remained until 1617 when he graduated as a master painter. The following year at the age of nineteen he married Juana Pacheco, his master's daughter, something that was quite common at that time. The couple had two children. Between 1617 and 1623 Velázquez developed his Sevillian period, characterised by a tenebrist style, influenced by Caravaggio. Paintings such as The Water Carrier of Seville and the Adoration of the Magi are particularly notable. He was fairly successful during these years, and he was able to afford two houses which he rented out. In 1623 he moved to Madrid where he became court painter to Philip IV, a great art lover. From then on he climbed the ladder in the Court, painting interesting portraits of the King and his famous work The Triumph of Bacchus, better known as Los Borrachos. He met [Rubens#pintor_en#3189] during the Flemish painter's stay at the Spanish Court, who encouraged him to travel to Italy. He went there in 1629 where he did a second apprenticeship, studying works by Titian, Tintoretto, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. In Italy he painted [The Forge of Vulcan#CUADROS#29] and Jacob's Coat and returned to Madrid two years later. The 1630s were an important period for the painter during which time he received interesting commissions for the Buen Retiro Palace, such as The Surrender of Breda and the equestrian portraits, and also commissions to paint hunting scenes for the Torre de la Parada hunting lodge. His painting became more colourful, and his excellent portraits stand out especially, such as the one of Martínez Montañés and The Lady of the Fan. His mythological works such as The Toilet of Venus, also known as The Rokeby Venus, and religious scenes such as Christ Crucified, are also extremely significant. Parallel to his artistic career, Velázquez also was an important courtier and held various posts, such as Usher of the Chamber, Gentleman of the Wardrobe and Gentleman of the Bedchamber. This court career took away time from his painting, meaning that his artistic production is sadly limited. In 1649 he went on a second journey to Italy, where he exhibited his immense artist talent, triumphing before Pope Innocence X, of whom he painted an excellent portrait, and the entire Roman court. He returned to Madrid with paintings bought for Philip IV. During the last years of the his life, Velázquez was obsessed by being admitted as a Knight of the Order of Santiago, which meant the ennobling of his family. This reduced his artistic output even further and from this period Las Hilanderas ("The Tapestry Weavers") and the group portrait of the Royal Family, popularly known as Las Meninas ("The Maids of Honour") are his most noteworthy paintings. He finally obtained the famous cross that he painted himself wearing in Las Meninas in 1659. After participating in the organisation of the handover of the Infanta Marie Therese to Louis XIV of France for their marriage, Velázquez died in Madrid on 6th August 1660, at the age of sixty-one.

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