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Why is the consummate Diego Velasquez called ” the artist of Truth»

The significance of his art in the development of world painting is invaluable, and his creative heritage served as a source of inspiration for the outstanding French masters of the XIX century. Kramskoy, Surikov, and Serov sang rave reviews of it. Fans of Spanish art have probably guessed that we are talking about the unsurpassed Diego Velasquez.


The greatest artist of the Spanish school was born in Seville in 1599. He was able to get a good education. From an early age, he grew up an inquisitive and well-trained child, quickly learned to read and from a young age began to collect his own library, which by the end of the artist’s life turned into a monumental collection.Judging by the subject matter of books and manuscripts in this library, Velasquez throughout his life was seriously interested in literature, architecture, history, philosophy, mathematics and astronomy, reading in Latin, Italian and Portuguese. At the age of 12, Diego Velasquez finally decided to become an artist. He began working in the Seville Studio of Francisco Herrera the Elder, and then in the Studio of the artist Francisco Pacheco. In 1623, the artist was invited to the court of king Philip IV to serve as a court artist.

Although the main activity of Velasquez remained one of the most famous court artists of the Spanish king, the greatest fame he received due to his progressive portrait and story painting. It was in this genre that he gained the status of “artist of Truth” as a master of high spiritual nobility and subtle intellectuality. Working at the court, Velasquez managed to preserve internal freedom and human dignity. He did not subordinate his work to the whims and tastes of notable customers. Working on portraits, the artist was sincerely interested in both transmitting the features of the common man and praising him. He managed to create extremely individualistic and impressive works. Velasquez remains one of the most important artists of the Spanish “Golden age” and of world painting in General.

Interesting facts about Velasquez
Despite the abundance of works on Royal orders, the artist found time to write portraits of ordinary people and scenes (whether they are spinners, jesters, servants, etc.). Having a high status as a court artist, Velasquez was able to suppress external influences of public opinion that considered this work humiliating, wasteful or pointless, and created truly irresistible paintings.

The artist’s directness was reflected in his works: the Spanish master’s style of painting was photorealistic in nature and far ahead of its time. He developed his own techniques for accurately depicting details and nuances, including the use of light gradients, color, and shape. It is not for nothing that he is called the early ancestor of the Impressionists and realists.

Velasquez was a master of using chiaroscuro (light and shadow processing) to create high contrast. He used this technique to highlight moments of special significance to the viewer and establish an overall atmospheric composition.

By the way, the composition was for Velasquez a strategic tool for managing the viewer’s attention from the point of view of his own idea. To this end, he often used diagonal and horizontal lines and complex focal points to direct the observer’s gaze to the most important figure.

“Las Meninas»
The masterpiece of Velazquez “Las Meninas” has become one of the most analyzed works in painting. In the painting, the master depicted his own self-portrait as himself. Placing himself as an artist in the domestic private scene with the royals, he noted not only the position of the artist as a person who is allowed to see moments of intimacy even in the family of the king, but also to elevate the role of this profession in those difficult times.
Around 1620, Velasquez painted “the water Carrier” – a portrait of an elderly poor man in a ragged brown robe, handing a glass of crystal clear water to a boy on the street. Drops of water glisten on the cream surface of a huge clay vessel with water. Velasquez painted the canvas at a very young age (20 years), but he managed to convey the most important idea with genius: despite his poverty, the water carrier has a crystal clear soul, like the water that makes him earn a pittance for a living. The rough colors and gentle humanity of the painting perfectly convey the depth of the artist’s compassion.


The self-portrait was painted by the artist at the age of forty, during the heyday of his talent and in the very years when contemporaries began to call Velasquez “the artist of truth”.
“Portrait of Juan de Pareja»

Juan de Pareja was a Sevillian of Moorish origin and a servant of the artist. He worked in Velasquez’s workshop from the 1630s. Pareja was himself a talented artist. The portrait shows the strength, poise and pride of the hero despite his status as a slave. The palette is surprisingly chosen – the General gray tones of clothing contrast with the warmer tones of the face. The look is strong, determined and expressive. The portrait conveys a stunning sense of human dignity. Of particular importance here is the collar are luxurious and expensive, it is a dazzlingly rich and creamy composition. This, of course, is not an attribute of lower-class clothing, and here it is a symbol of freedom. Velasquez treated Pareja with the same solemnity and respect as depicted in the portrait. The painting is a significant evidence of Velasquez’s love for depicting the greatness and purity of the common man .What is significant-immediately after the completion of the portrait, the artist granted his friend freedom.
“Portrait of Pope innocent X»

Velasquez studied earlier portraits of popes by Raphael and Titian, but he painted the image of Pope innocent X exactly as he saw It: a wary, suspicious old man on guard of the world. Velasquez’s masterful writing of details and decorations is amazing: silk, linen, velvet, gold, textures. The use of light with different shades of red and white creates an atmosphere of power and power of the ruler. In the portrait, Pope innocent X is depicted as so severe and cruel that Velasquez’s acquaintances were concerned that the Pope would be dissatisfied with the work. When he saw his portrait, he said to the artist: “Too true”, but in the end approved of the result.

Like other great masters, Velasquez was the Creator of his era, and regardless of the subject matter – whether it is the depiction of gods, kings or aristocrats, dwarfs or artists – his works continue to live on after his death. In fact, some of the most prominent artists in history considered Velasquez their idol. These artists included Paul Cezanne, Edouard Manet and Pablo Picasso, and others. it was the artist’s talent and passion for introducing new techniques to painting that made Velasquez one of the best artists in the world.

The work of great artists is timeless. Proof of this is the story of how Velasquez and Goya inspired the most daring fashion designer of the XX century to create high fashion.

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