DIEGO DE SILVA VELASQUEZ (1599-1660), the head of the Spanish school of painting and one of the mightiest painters the world has known, was born in Seville early in June 1599, the year in which Van Dyck also first saw the light at Antwerp. His European fame is of comparatively recent origin, dating from the first quarter of the 19th century. Till then his pictures had lain immured in the palaces and museum of Madrid; and from want of popular appreciation they had to a large extent escaped the rapacity of the French marshals during the Peninsular War. In 1828 Sir David Wilkie1 wrote from Madrid that he felt himself in the presence of a new power in art as he looked as the works of Velasquez, and at the same time found a wonderful affinity between this master and the English school of portrait painters, being specially reminded of the firm square touch of Raeburn. He was struck by the sense of modernness of impression, of direct contact with nature, and of rival force which pervaded all the work of Velasquez, in landscape as well as in portraiture. Time and criticism have how fully established his reputation as one of the most consummate of painters, and accordingly Mr. Ruskin says of him that "everything Velasquez does may be taken as absolutely right by the student." At the present day his marvelous technique and strong individuality have given him a power in European art such as is exercised by no other of the old masters. Acquainted with all the Italian schools, the friend of the foremost painters of his day, he was strong enough to withstand every external influence and to work out for himself the development of his own nature and his own principles of art. A realist of the realists, he painted only what he saw; consequently his imagination seems limited. His religious conceptions are of the earthy, although some of his works, such as the Crucifixion and Scourging, are characterized by an intensity of pathos in which he ranks second to no painter. His men and women seem to breathe; his horses are full of action and his dogs of life; so quick and close is his grasp of his subject. England was the first nation to recognize his extraordinary merit, and it owns by far the largest share of his works outside of Spain.2 but Velasquez can only be seen in all his power in the gallery of the Prado at Madrid, where over sixty of his works are preserved, including historical, mythological, and religious subjects, as well as landscapes and portraits. It is hardly creditable to the patriotism of Seville, his native town, that no example of his work is to be seen in the gallery of that city. Seville was then in the height of its prosperity, "the pearl of Spain," carrying on a great trade the New World, and was also a vigorous centre of literature and art. For more than a hundred years it had fostered a native school of painting which ranked high in the Peninsula, and it reckoned among its citizens many whose names are prominent in Spanish literature.
Velasquez was the son of Rodriguez de Silva, a lawyer in Seville, descended from a noble Portuguese family, and was baptized on 6th June 1599. Following a common Spanish usage, he is known by his mothers name Velasquez. There has been considerable diversity of opinion as to his full name, but he was known to his contemporaries as Diego de Silva Velasquez, and signed his name thus. He was educated, says Palomino, by his parents in the fear of God, and was intended for a learned profession, for which he received a good training in languages and philosophy. But the bent of the boy was towards art, and he was placed under the elder Herrera, a vigorous painter who disregarded the Italian influence of the early Seville school. From his works in Seville we can see that Herrera was a bold and effective painter; but he was at the same time a man of unruly temper and his pupils could selfdom stay long with him. Velasquez remained but one year, long enough, however, to influence his life. it was from Herrera that he learned to use long brushes, or, as Mr J. E. Hodgson, R.A., suggests, brushes with long bristles, by means of which his colours seem to be floated on the canvas by a light fluent touch, the envy and despair of his successors. From Herreras studio Velasquez betook himself to a very different master, the learned and pedantic Pachero, the author of a heavy book on painting, and, as we see by his works at Madrid, a dull commonplace painter. In this school he remained for five years, studying proportion and perspective, and seeing all that was best in the literary and artistic circles of Seville. Here alsoæand this may explain muchæhe fell in love with his masters daughter Juana, whom he married in 1618 with the hearty approval of Pacheco, who praises his hand and heart, claiming at the same time all the credit of having been his master. He must, however, have found Velasquez a wayward pupil; for, instead of looking to Raphael, according to orders, the young painter set himself to copy the commonest things about him,æearthware jars o the county people, birds, fish, fruit, and flowers of the market-place. To paint well and thoroughly what he saw, to model with his brush, and to colour under the influence of light and shade were for him the vital purpose, that first lesson, in his art. It was with deliberate purpose that Velasquez painted this bodegones (tavern-pieces), as they were called; for we are told that he said he would rather be the first painter of common things than the second in higher art. Carrying out this idea still further, Velasquez felt that to master the subtlety of the human face he must make this a special study, and he accordingly engaged a peasant lad to be servant and model, making innumerable studies in charcoal and chalk, and catching his every expression. We see this model in the laughing Peasant Boy of the Balvedere Gallery at Vienna. In such work as this, and in his studies by the wayside, Velasquez laid the foundation of his subsequent mastery of expression, of penetration into character, and of rendering the life of his sitter to the quick. He saw the world around him teeming with life and objects of interests to the painter, and he himself to render these. His master is as national as that of Cervantes. He lived and died racy of the soil. The position and reputation of Velasquez were now assured at Seville. There his wife bore him two daughters,æall his family so far as is known. The younger died in infancy, while the elder, Francisca, in due time married Bautista de Mazo, a painter, whose large family is probably that which is represented in the important picture of later years in Vienna, the so-called Family of Velasquez. Mr. Curtis, however, is inclined to believe that this picture is by Mazo. In the gallery at Madrid there is at least one portrait of this daughter, painted in these early days at Seville, as also a portrait of Juana his wife, holding a drawing-tablet on her knee. There was formerly in the possession of Lord Dudley another portrait of his wife by Velasquez, painted, perhaps, in the first year of their happy marriage. Of this early Seville manner we have an excellent example in El Aguador (the Water-Carrier) at Apsley House (London). Firm almost to hardness, it displays close study of nature. One can see in it the youthful struggle to portray the effects of light stealing here and there over the prominent features of the face, groping after the effects which the painter was to master later on. The brushwork is bold and broad, and the outlines firmly marked. As is usual with Velasquez at this time, the harmony of colours is red, brown and yellow, reminding one of Ribera. For sacred subjects we may turn to the Adoration of the Magi at Madrid, dated 1619 and the Adoration of the Shepherds in the London National Gallery, in both of which we have excellent examples of his realism. The peasants offering their gifts of poultry are the hard-featured women of the market-place of Seville, pre-Raphaelite in their uncompromising truthfulness. Thus also in the St John in the Desert we find his peasant boy transformed into the saint.
But Velasquez was now eager to see more of the world. Madrid, with its fine Titians, held out strong inducements. Accordingly in 1622, fortified with letters of introduction to Fonseca, who held a good position at court, he spent some months there, accompanied only by his servant. Here he painted the portrait of the poet Gongora, a commission from Pacheco, which how hangs in the gallery at Madrid. The impression which Velasquez made in the capital must have been very strong, for in the following year he was summoned to return by Olivares, the all-powerful minister of Philip IV., fifty ducats being allowed to defray his expenses. On this occasion he was accompanied by his father-in-law. Next year (1624) he received from the king three hundred ducats to pay the cost of the removal of his family to Madrid, which became his home for the remainder of his life. Weak and worthless as a king, Philip had inherited the art-loving properties of his race, and was proud to be considered a poet and a painter. It is one of the best features of his character that he remained for a thirty-six years the faithful and attached friend of Velasquez, whose merit he soon recognized, declaring that no other painter should ever paint his portrait. By his equestrian portrait of the king, painted in 1623, Velasquez secured admission to the royal service with a salary of twenty ducats per month, besides medical attendance, lodgings, and payment for the pictures he might paint. The portrait was exhibited on the steps of San Felipe, and was received with enthusiasm, being vaunted by poets, among them Pacheco. It has unfortunately disappeared, having probably perished in one of the numerous fires which occurred in the royal palaces. The Prado, however, has two portraits (Nos. 1070 and 1071) which are most probably studies for his picture. In them the harshness of the Seville period has disappeared and the tones are more delicate. The modeling is firm, recalling that of Antonio Moro, the Dutch portrait-painter of Philip II., who exercised a considerable influence on the Spanish school. In the same year the prince of Wales (afterwards Charles I.) arrived at the court of Spain. We are told that he sat to Velasquez, but the picture has disappeared.1 It was during this period also that he painted the hunting-scenes of which examples are to be found in the hunting-scenes of which example are to be found in the collections of Sir Richard Wallace, Lord Clarendon, and others, and which served him in the production of the great Boar Hunt of the London National Gallery, painted, however, in the later years of his life,æa magnificent work in spite of some restorations. It was then too that he painted the groups of Court Gallants in their gay costumes, accompanied, as in the Boar Hunt, by their servants and dogs. The splendid Meeting or Artists (as it is absurdly named) in the Louvre was doubtless executed at a later time from studies taken in these early years, for it displays all the qualities of his finer work, space and air being thrown round the figures, which are touched with great mastery and ease.
In 1628 Rubens visited Madrid on a diplomatic mission for nine months, and Velasquez was appointed by the king to be his guide among the art treasures of Spain. Rubens was then at the height of his fame, and had undertaken as a commission from Olivares the large pictures which how adorn the great hall in Grosvenor House (London). These months might have been a new turning-point in the career of a weaker man than Velasquez, for Rubens added to his brilliant style as a painter the manner of a fascinating courtier. Rubens had a high opinion of the talent of Velasquez, as is attested by Fuensalida, but he effected no charge in the style of the strong Spaniard. He impressed him, however, with the desire to see Italy and the works of her mighty painters. In 1627 the king had given for competition among the painters of Spain the subject of the Expulsion of the Moors. Velasquez bore off the palm; but his picture was destroyed in a fire at the palace in 1734. Palomino, however, describes it. Philip III. points with his baton to a crowd of men and women driven off under of soldiers, while Spain, a majestic female, sits looking calmly on. The triumph of Velasquez was rewarded by his being appointed gentleman usher. To this was shortly afterwards added a daily allowance of twelve reals, the same amount as was allowed to the court barbers, and ninety ducats a year for dress, which was also paid to the dwarfs, buffoons, and players about the kings personætruly a curious estimate of talent at the court of Spain. As an extra payment he received (though it was not paid for five years) one hundred ducats for the picture of Bacchus, painted in 1629 (No. 485 of the Madrid gallery). The spirit and aim of this work are better understood from its Spanish name, Los Borrachos or Los Bebedores (the Topers), who are paying mock homage to a half-naked ivy-crowned young man seated on a wine barrel. It is like a story by Cervantes, and is brimful of jovial humour. One can easily see in this picture of national manners how Velasquez reaped the benefit of his close study of peasant life. The painting is firm and solid, and the light and shade are more deftly handled than in former works. Altogether, this production may be taken as the most advanced example of the first style of Velasquez. It is usual to divide his artistic career by his two visit to Italy, his second style following the first visit and his third the second. Roughly speaking, this somewhat arbitrary division may be accepted, though it will not always apply, for, as is usual in the case of many great painters, his styles at times overlap each other. Velasquez rarely signed his pictures, and the royal archives only give the dates of his more important works. Internal evidence and history, as regards his portraits, supply to a certain extent the rest.
In 1629 Philip gave Velasquez permission to carry out his desire of visiting Italy, without loss of salary, making him besides a present of 400 ducats, to which Olivares added 200. He sailed form Barcelona in August in the company of the marquis De Spinola, the conqueror of Breda, then on his way to take command of the Spanish troops at Milan. It was during this voyage that Velasquez must have heard the details of the surrender of Breda from the lips of the victor, and he must have sketched his fine head, known to us also by the portrait by Van Dyck. But the great picture was not painted till many years later, for Spinola had fallen into disfavour at court. In Venice Velasquez made copies of the Crucifixion and the Last Supper of Tintoretto, which he sent to the king, and in Rome he copied Michelangelo and Raphael, lodging in the Villa Medici till fever compelled him to remove into the city. Here he painted the Forge of Vulcan (No. 1059 of the Madrid gallery), in which Apollo narrates to the astonished Vulcan, a village blacksmith, the news of the infidelity of Venus, while four Cyclops listen to the scandal. The mythological treatment is similar to that of the Bacchus: it is realistic and Spanish to the last degree, giving a picture of the interior of an Andalusian smithy, with Apollo thrown in to make the story tell. The conception is commonplace, yet the impression it produces is undoubted from the vividness of the representation and the power of expression. The modeling of the half-naked figures is excellent. Altogether this picture is much superior to the other work painted at the same time, Josephs Coat, which now hangs in the Escorial. This work has been much praisedæoverpraised in the opinion of the present writeræand this opinion is shared by Don Federico de Madrazo, the director of the Madrid museum, who looks on it as one of the weakest of the productions of Velasquez. Both these works are evidently painted from the same models. In looking at these two pictures what strikes one especially is that they betray no trace of the influence of the Italians. Velasquez remained true to himself. At Rome he also painted the two beautiful landscapes of the Gardens of the Medici, now in the Madrid museum, full of sparkle and charm. Landscape as a form of art never had attraction for the Spaniards; but Velasquez here, and in the silvery landscapes painted some years later at Aranjuez, shows how great a master he was in this branch of art. After a visit to Naples in 1631, where he worked with his countryman Ribera, and painted a charming portrait of the infanta Maria, sister of Philip, he returned early in the early in the year to Madrid.
He then painted the first of many portraits of the young prince Don Baltasar Carlos, the heir to the throne, dignified and lordly even in his childhood, caracolling in the dress of a field-marshal on his prancing steed. Sir Richard Wallace owns a fine example; but the finest in the United Kingdom is the well-known picture at Grosvenor House, a masterly example of the second manner of Velasquez. The colour is warm and bright, the workmanship solid and fused like enamel, while light and air pervade every corner. The scene is in the riding-school of the palace, the king and queen looking on from a balcony, while Olivares is in attendance as master of the horse to the prince. Don Baltasar died in 1646 at the age of seventeen, so that judging by his age this picture must have been painted about 1641, two years before the fall of Olivares. This powerful minister was the early and constant patron of the painter. His impassive saturnine face is familiar to us from the many portraits painted by Velasquez, a face which, like his royal masters, seems never to have known a smile, and in which are written pride and disdain. Two must be named of surpassing excellence,æthe full length belonging to Mr. Holford (exhibited at Burlington House in 1887), stately and dignified, in which he wears the green cross of Alcantara and holds a wand, the badge of his office as master of the horse; the other the great equestrian portrait of the Madrid gallery (No. 487), in which he is flatteringly represented as a field-marshal in all his pomp during an action. It is difficult to overpraise the excellence of this work, either as regards its dramatic power or its masterly execution. In these portraits Velasquez has well repaid the debt of gratitude which he owed to his first patron, whom he stood by in his fall, thus exposing himself to the riskæand it was not a light oneæof incurring the anger of the jealous Philip. The king, however, showed no sign of malice towards his favoured painter. Faithful in few things, Philip kept true to Velasquez, whom he visited daily in his studio in the palace, and to whom he stood in many attitudes and costumes, as a huntsman with his dogs, as a warrior in command of his troops, and even on his knees at prayer, wearing ever the same dull uninterested look. His pale face and lack-lustre eye, his fair flowing hair and moustaches curled up to his eyes, and his heavy projecting Austrian lip are known in many a portrait and nowhere more supremely than in the wonderful canvas of the London National Gallery (No. 745). Where he seems to live and breathe. Few portraits in the whole range of art will compare with this work, in which the consummate handling of Velasquez is seen at its best, for it is in his late and most perfect manner.1 From one of the equestrian portraits of the king, painted in 1638, the sculptor Montañas modelled a statue which was cast in bronze by the Florentine sculptor Tacca, and which now stands in the Plaza del Oriente at Madrid, "a solid Velasquez," as it has been well named by Ford. This portrait exists no more; but there is no lack of others, for Velasquez was in constant and close attendance on Philip, accompanying him in his journeys to Aragon in 1642 and 1644, and was doubtless present with him when he entered Lerida as a conqueror. It was then that he painted the great equestrian portrait (No. 1066 of the Madrid gallery) in which the king is represented as a great commander leading his troops,æa role which Philip never played except in a theatrical pageant. All is full of animation except the stolid face of the king. It hangs as a pendant to the great Olivares portrait,æ fit rivals of the neighbouring Charles V. by Titian, which doubtless and fired Velasquez to excel himself, and both remarkable for their silvery tone, and their feeling of open air and harmony combined with brilliancy. The light plays on the armour and scarf thrown to the wind, showing how completely Velasquez has mastered the effects he strove to reach in his early days. Of these two great works Sir Richard Wallace possesses small but excellent replicas.
But besides the forty portraits of Philip which are known, we have portraits of other members of the royal family, of Philips first wife, Isabella of Bourdon, and her children, especially of her eldest son, Don Baltasar Carlos, of whom, besides those already mentioned, there is a beautiful full length in a private room at Buckingham Palace. Cavaliers, soldiers, churchmen, and poets of the court, as for example the Quevedo at Apsley House (Burlington House, 1887), sat to the painter and, even if forgotten by history, will live on his canvas. The admirable Pareja of Lord Radnors collection (Burlington House, 1873) is said to have been taken by Philip for the living man. It has been remarked that the Spaniards have always been chary of committing to canvas the portraits of their beautiful women. Queens and infantas may be painted and exhibited, but ladies rarely. One wonders who the beautiful woman can be that adorns the gallery of Sir Richard Wallace, the splendid brunette so unlike the usual fair-haired female sitters to Velasquez. She belongs to this period of his work, to the ripeness of his middle period. Instinct with life, her bosom seems to heave and the blood to pulsate through her veins. The touch is firm but free, showing the easy strength of the greater master. Rarely has flesh been painted with such a glow, yet with such reserve. This picture was one of the ornaments of the Bethnal Green Collection. But, if we have new ladies of the court of Philip, we have in great plenty his buffoons and dwarfs. Even these deformed creatures attract our sympathy as we look portraits by Velasquez, who, true to his nature, treats them gently and kindly, as in El Primo (the Favourite), whose intelligent face and huge folio with ink bottle and pen by his side show him to be a wiser and better-educated man than many of the gallants of the court. El Bodo de Coria, El Niño de Vallecas, and Pablillos, a buffoon evidently acting a part, all belong to this middle period. From these commissioned portraits of the menials of the court it is pleasant to turn to one of the greatest of historical works, the Surrender of Breda, often known as Las Lanzas, from the serried rank of lances breaking the sky, which is believed to have been painted about 1647. it represents the moment when the vanquished Justin of Nassau in front of his Dutch troops is submissively bending as he offers to his conquer Spinola the keys of the town, which, with courteous grace, the victor refuses to accept, as he lays his hand gently on the shoulder of his defeated foe.1 Behind Spinola stand the Spanish troops bearing their lances aloft, while beyond is a long stretch of the Low Country, dotted with fortifications and giving the impression of vast space and distance. The picture is full of light and air and is perhaps the finest example of the silvery bluish style of Velasquez. In conception it is as fine as in execution, and one looks in vain for a trace of "the malicious pencil" which Sir William Stirling-Maxwell discerned in the treatment of Justin and his gallant Dutchmen.
The greatest of the religious paintings by Velasquez belongs to this middle period, the Christ on the Cross (Madrid gallery, No. 1055). Palomino says it was painted in 1638 for the convent of San Placido. It is a work of tremendous power and of great originality, the moment chosen being that immediately after death. The Saviours head hangs on his breast and a mass of dark tangled hair conceals part of the face. The beautiful form is projected against a black and hopeless sky from which light has been blotted out. The figure stands absolutely alone without any accessory. The skull and serpent described by Sir William Stirling-Maxwell were added by some pious bungler at a much later date. The picture was lengthened to suit its place in an oratory; but this addition has since been removed.
Velasquezs son-in-law Mazo had succeeded him as usher in 1634, and he himself had received steady promotion in the royal household, receiving a pension of 500 ducats in 1640, increased to 700 in 1648, for portraits painted and to be painted, and being appointed inspector of works in the place in 1647. Philip now entrusted him with the carrying out of a design on which he had long set his heart, the founding of an academy of art in Spain. Rich in pictures, Spain was weak in statuary, and Velasquez was commissioned to proceed to Italy to make purchases. Accompanied by his faithful slave Pareja, whom he taught to be a good painter, he sailed from Malaga in 1649, landing at Genoa, and proceeding thence by Milan to Venice, buying Titians, Tintorettos, and Veroneses as he went. A curious conversation which he is said to have had with Salvator Rosa is reported by Boshini,2 in which the Spaniard with perfect frankness confess his want of appreciation of Raphael and his admiration of Titian, "first of all Italian men." It seems a possible story, for Velasquez bought according to his liking sand painted in the spirit of his own ideals. At Modena he was received with much favour by the duke, and doubtless here he painted the two splendid portraits which how adorn the Dresden gallery, for these pictures came from the Modena sale 1746. They presage the advent of the painters third and latest manner, a noble example of which is the great portrait of Innocent X. in the Doria palace at Rome, to which city Velasquez now proceeded. There he was received with marked favour by the pope, who presented him with a medal and gold chain. Of this portrait, thought by Sir Joshua Reynolds to be the finest picture in Rome, Palomino says that Velasquez took a copy to Spain. There exist several in different galleries, some of them possibly studies for the original or replicas painter for Philip. One of the most remarkable is that in Apsley House, exhibited in Burlington House in 1887. The modelling of the stern impassive face comes near to perfection, so delicate are the gradations in the full light; all sharpness of outline has disappeared; and the features seem moulded by the broad and masterly brushwork. When closely examined, the work seems coarse, yet at the proper distance it gives the very essence of living flesh. The handling is rapid but unerring. Velasquez had now reached the manera abreviada, as the Spaniards call this bolder style. This is but another way of saying that his early and laborious studies and his close observation of nature and given to him in due time, as to all great painters, the power of representing what he saw by simpler means and with more absolute truth. At Rome he painted also a portrait of his servant Pareja, probably the picture of Lord Radnors collection, which procured his election into the Academy of St Luke. Philip was now wearying for his return; accordingly, after a visit to Naples, where he saw his old friend Ribera, he returned to Spain by Barcelona in 1651, taking with him many pictures and 300 pieces of statuary, which he afterwards arranged and catalogued for the king. Undraped sculpture was, however, abhorrent to the Spanish Church, and after Philips death these works gradually disappeared.
Isabella of Bourbon had died in 1644, and the king had married Maria Anna of Austria, whom Velasquez now painted in may attitudes. He was specially chosen by the king to fill the high office of "aposentador major," which imposed on him the duty of looking after the quarters occupied by the court whether at home or in their journeysæa responsible function, which was no sinecure an interfered with the exercise of his art. Yet far form indicating any decline, his works of this period are amongst the highest examples of his style. The dwarf Don Antonio el Inglés (the Englishman) with his dog, Æsop, Menippus, and the Sulptor, all in the Mandrid gallery, show his surest and freest manner. To these may be added the charming portraits of the royal children in the Louvre and Vienna, among the choicest of his works. It is one of these infantas, Margarita Maria, the eldest daughter of the new queen, that is the subject of the well-known picture Las Meniñas (the Maids of Honour) in the Madrid gallery, painted in 1656, where the little lady holds court, surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting, her dwarfs, and her mastiff, while Velasquez is seen standing at his easel. This is the finest portrait we have of the greater painter, and, as etched by St Raymond, it forms the frontispiece of the book by Mr Curtis. It is a face of much dignity, power, and sweetness,ælike his life, equable and serene, unruffled by care. Las Meniñas was the picture of which Luca Giordano said that it was the "theology of painting," another way of expressing the opinion of Sir Thomas Lawrence, that this work is the philosophy of art, so true is it in rendering the desired effect. The result is there, one knows not by what means, as if by a first intention without labour, absolutely right. The story is told that the king painted the red cross of Santiago on the breast of the painter, as it appears to-day on the canvas. Velasquez did not, however, receive the honour till 1659, three years after the execution of this work. Even the powerful kin of Spain could not make is favourite a belted knight without a commission to inquire into the purity of his lineage on both side of the house.1 Fortunately the pedigree could bear scrutiny, as for generations the family was found free from all taint of heresy, from all trace of Jewish or Moorish blood, and from contamination by trade or commerce. The difficulty connected with the fact that he was a painter was got over by his being painter to the king and by declaration that he did not sell his pictures. But for this royal appointment, which enabled him to escape the censorship of the Inquisition, we should never have had his splendid Venus and Cupid, belonging to Mr Morritt of Rokeby Hall (exhibited in Manchester in 1857), painted in his latest manner and worthy of comparison with Titian. There were in truth but two patrons of art in Spain,æthe church and the art-loving king and court Murillo was the artist favoured by the church, while Velasquez was patronized by the crown. One difference, however, deserves to be noted. Murillo, who toiled for a rich and powerful church, left scarcely sufficient means to pay for his burial, while Velasquez lived and died in the enjoyment of good salaries and pensions. Yet on occasions Philip gave commissions for religious pictures to Velasquez,æamong others, and belonging to this later period, the Coronation of the Virgin (Madrid), splendid in colouræa harmony of red, blue, and greyæbut deficient in religious feeling and dignity. It was painted for the oratory of the queen, doubtless Maria Anna, in the palace at Madrid. Another royal commission for the hermitage of Buen Retiro was the St. Anthony the Abbot and St Paul the Hermit, painted in 1659, the landscape of which excited the warn admiration of Sir David Wilkie. The last of his works which we shall name is Las Hilanderas or the Spinners (Madrid), painted about 1656, representing the interior of royal tapestry works. The subject is nothing, the treatment everything. It is full of light, air, and movement, splendid in colour, and marvellous in handling. This picture, Raphael Mengs said, seemed to have been painted not by the hand but by the pure force of will. We see in it the full repines of the power of Velasquez, a concentration of all the art-knowledge he had gathered during his long artistic career of more than forty years. In no picture is he greater as a colourist. The scheme is simple,æa harmony of red, bluish green, grey, and black, which are varied and blended with consummate skill.
In 1660 a treaty of peace between France and Spain was to be consummated by the marriage of the infanta Maria Theresa with Louis XVI., and the ceremony was to take place in the Island of Pheasants, a small swampy island in the Bidassoa. Velasquez was charged with the decoration of the Spanish pavilion and with the whole scenic display. In the midst of the grandees of the first two courts in Christendom Velasquez attracted much attention by the nobility of his bearing and the splendour of his costume. On the 26th June he returned to Madrid, and on the 31st July he was stricken with fever. Feeling his end and approaching, he signed his will, appointing as his sole executors his wife and his firm friend Fuensalida, keeper of the royal records. He died on the 6th of August 1660, passing away in the full possession of his great powers, and leaving no work behind him to show a trace of decay. He was buried in the Fuensalida vault of the church of San Juan, and within eight days his wife Juana was laid beside him. Unfortunately this church was destroyed by the French in 1811, so that his place of interment is now unknown. There was much difficulty in adjusting the tangled accounts outstanding between Velasquez and the treasury, and it was not till 1666, after the death of Philip, that they were finally settled.
Velasquez can hardly be said to have formed a school of painting. Apart form the circumstances that his occupation at court would have prevented this, his genius was too personal for transmission by teaching. Yet his influence on those immediately connected with him was considerable. In 1642 he befriended young Murillo on his arrival in Madrid, received him into this house, and directed his studies for three years. His son-in-law Mazo painted in his manner, and doubtless many pictures by Mazo are attributed to the master. Carreño, though never a pupil, was a favourite and had the good sense to appreciate him and imitate him. His faithful slave Pareja studied his methods and produced work which by the favour of Velasquez procured his manumission from Philip. But the appreciation of the fine talent of Velasquez passed away quickly in Spain, as the country began to fall to pieces.
In addition to the standard works by Palomino, Cean Bermudez, and Pacheco, see the biographical notice by Don Pedro de Madrazo in his Catalogo del Museo del Prado (1872; Velasquez and his works (1855) and Annals of Artists of Spain(1848), by W. Stirling (afterwards Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell); Fords Handbook to Spain (1855) and his article in the English Cyclopædia; Velasquez and Murillo, by Charles B. Curtis (1883); the works of W. Burger (T. Thoré); Gesch. D. Malerei, by Woltmann and Woermann; Sir Edmund Heads Handbook of Spanish Painting (1848); Works of Velasquez (prints), by G. W. Reid (1872); Gaz. D. Beaux Arts, art. "Velasquez," by Paul Lefort (second period 1879-82); and Justi, Diego Velasquez u. sein Jahrhundert, 2 vols., Bonn, 1888. (J. F. W.)
The above article was written by John F. White, M.A., LL.D., joint author of the Life and Art of George Paul Chalmers, R.S.A., and many articles on ancient and modern art.