Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was born on june 6
Ecuestrian portrait of Gaspar de Guzmen - Oil on canvas - 1635
Velázquez (1599 -1660) is a Baroque painter considered one of the main representatives of Spanish painting and one of the masters of universal painting.
He spent his first years in Seville, where he developed a naturalistic style based on chiaroscuro. At the age of 24, he moved to Madrid, where he was appointed painter to King Philip IV and, four years later, became a chamber painter, the most important office among the painters of the court.
As an artist, as a court painter, he mainly produced portraits of the king, his family and the grandees of Spain as well as paintings designed to decorate the royal apartments.
His presence at the court allowed him to study the collections of royal paintings. The study of these collections, added to the study of Italian painters during his first trip to Italy, has a decisive influence on the evolution of his style, characterized by great luminosity and quick brush strokes.
During the last ten years of his life, his style becomes more schematic, arriving at a notable dominance of light. This period saw the birth of one of his masterpieces: Les Ménines. His catalog contains 120 to 125 works painted and drawn.
Celebrated well after his death, Vélasquez's reputation reached a peak from 1880 to 1920, a period that coincided with the French Impressionist painters for whom he was a reference.
Velasquez died in Madrid on 6 August 1660.
"Las Méninas" (see French page) shows us Velasquez at the royal palace while he painted Philip IV and his wife Marie-Anne. The couple is visible only in the mirror hanging at the back of the room. At the center of it is the Infanta Marguerite, five years old, she seems to have just entered with her ladies-in-waiting. The light falls on the little girl, the looks of her parents and that of the spectator rest on her. It seems that she personifies family happiness, wealth and a promising future.