Picture Study is simple. Look at the picture with your children for a few minutes, and then talk about what you saw. Try to remember as much about the piece as you can. Enjoy the beauty of it. Art is not a chore; it’s a pleasure. We’ve chosen some works by Diego Velázquez for this month.
Diego Velázquez was a painter who lived in Spain during the Baroque period. He was the oldest of six children, and his parents educated him at home. He was taught religion, languages, and philosophy by them. His dad recognized his son’s talent for art when Diego’s copybooks contained more drawings than words. So, he found a way for Diego to study art by apprenticing his son to Francisco de Herrera the Elder, who was the creator of the Spaniard’s national style. After his twelfth birthday, Diego went to study with another Spanish painter, Francisco Pacheco, who taught him all kinds of drawing as well as literature, poetry, and philosophy.
Pacheco had influential contacts in the Spanish court, eventually leading to Diego’s adult career. But first, Diego had to be accepted into the local Painter’s Guild. That happened when he was eighteen. Shortly after, he married Pacheco’s daughter, Juana, and set up his own studio in Seville. There, he started a family and painted historical scenes, portraits, and mythological and sacred subjects. Five years later, King Philip IV’s favorite court painter passed away, and Velázquez was summoned to take his place. At that point, Velázquez moved his family to Madrid, where he took a job that would provide for them for the rest of his life.
Diego did make a couple of trips to Rome, and he got to paint Pope Innocent X. He returned to Madrid with many paintings and renewed energy. When he arrived, King Philip IV named him Supreme Court Marshal, which allowed him to expand his workshop and take on many helpers and students. During this period, he finished his last major work, Las Meninas. Diego Velázquez passed away just a few years later.
Velázquez was little known outside of Spain until the 1800s. However, he was a key influence on Manet and the Impressionists. Las Meninas was recreated again and again by 19th and 20th-century painters. He is famous for his ability to walk the line between tradition and modernity, respecting the old ways of painting and exploring new ones.
- Velázquez: the Painter’s Painter
- Why is this painting so captivating?
- The Velázquez Technique: Discovering his painting process
- Art with Mati and Dada: Velazquez:
- Living Biographies of the Great Painters by Henry Thomas (source text for biography) discusses Velázquez on pages 128-140. Read online here: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.124855/
- Diego Velazquez by Mike Venezia.
- The Princess and the Painter by Jane Johnson
- Un Cuadro de Velázquez by Claire D’Harcourt (in Spanish with amazing pictures)
- I, Juan de Pareja: The Story of a Great Painter and the Slave He Helped Become a Great Artist by Elizabeth Borton De Trevino
- Weekend with Velazquez by Rizzoli
Photo of Artist: By Diego Velázquez – , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1963704