Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Spanish Painter

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (June 6,1599 – August 6, 1660), commonly referred to as Diego Velázquez, was a Spanish painter, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV.

The Rokeby Venus
(The Toilet of Venus)
By Diego Velazquez
The National Gallery, London

In the painting the goddess Venus is depicted lying on a bed, looking into a mirror held up by Cupid. The face reflected in the dimmed mirror appears to be that of an older woman, which has long intrigued experts. Some think it is a commentary on the vanity of beauty which is transitory due to aging. Some think the face in the mirror was over-painted by another artist at a later time. Another explanation is that the face is not aged, merely out focus, a sharper face would distract our immediate attention from the form of Venus. By seeing the nude first, and the face afterwards, we are "caught" in voyeurism. The face in the mirror is also substantially larger than it should be, and the mirror is angled such that, in reality, it would reflect a different part of the goddess's body.
The painting is unique for being the only surviving female nude by Velázquez, and one of only two such paintings in all of 17th-century Spanish art, which was often censored by the Spanish Inquisition.

Vieja friendo huevos
(An Old Woman Cooking Eggs
By Diego Velazques
The National Gallery of Scotland

These early paintings were called bodegones from bodegon, a cheap eating house, and depict common everyday low-life street scenes in a sombre manner with the humble characters portrayed with great dignity and gravitas.

Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan
By Diego Velazques
Museo Nacinal del Prado, Madrid

The Forge of Vulcan; no. 1171, in which Apollo narrates to the astonished Vulcan, the blacksmith of the gods portrayed here as a village blacksmith, the news of the infidelity of Venus, while four others listen to the scandal.

Infanta Maria Teresa
By Diego Velazquez
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

By Diego Velazquez
Museo Nacional del Prado


I have been lucky enough to visit both the Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan and Mars at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. Unfortunately these photos scanned from prints do not do these paintings justice. Standing in front of both of them are absolutely breathtaking!

For the readers who live in London or are planning a visit to the UK, The National Gallery in London has a Current Exhibition from Oct. 18, 2006 to Jan. 21, 2007 featuring Diego Velazquez works. If by chance you visit the gallery, shoot me an email and let me know your thoughts.

Have a wonderful day everyone! Comments are always appreciated.


N Posted by Rain at 11/16/2006 07:09:00 AM


  • Blogger jedimerc posted at 10:11 AM  
    Some lovely pieces here... more a fan of later 18th century neo-classical(I saw a great exhibit years ago at the Kimball here in Fort Worth called 'Loves of the Gods' from that era), though I see some of the beginnings of the realism in style in these works. I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen these before since I have not been to Madrid or London... yet :)
  • Blogger e-rai posted at 4:07 AM  
    i was in el prado this last weekend flipping with velazquez, and now was in the internet looking around about him.
    loved your article and loved to know about the london exhibit!!!
    so thank you!
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