1599 - 1660
Diego Velazquez was a Spanish painter of the Baroque era, specialising in portraits of the royal and affluent. He worked during the Spanish Golden Age of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, along with Caravaggio and El Greco, (who although born in Greece worked primarily in Spain). Velazquez was born in Seville and worked in Madrid, but he also spent time in Italy visiting Naples and Genoa. One of the paintings suggested to be painted during one of these visits is the Rokeby Venus, which I recently saw at the National Gallery in London. It is the only surviving female nude by Velazquez and its beauty is absolutely breathtaking in a gallery setting.
Rokeby Venus 1647-51
Las Meninas is probably Velazquez’s most famous piece. It is a painting showing members of King Philip IV’s Spanish court and the carers of the young princess Margarita Theresa (centre). The composition of the piece is very unusual: Velazquez is shown to the left of the foreground group in front of his wooden easel, of which we can only see the back. This bares the question of our placement in the scene and why Margarita Theresa stares back at us, despite the artist being behind her.
Las Meninas 1656