The art of Velasquez (1599-1660) has earned him a particularly important place in the history not only of Spain but of the entire European art. Undoubtedly, the extraordinary artistic creation revealed by his original artistic personality cannot be compared with the art of any other artist.
Velasquez was born in Seville. After receiving his initial education in the workshop of Francisco Herrera, he became an apprentice for some time in the workshop of the skilled painter Francisco Pacheco. Pacheco’s collection contained excellent drawings and prints by European painters, the study of which gave Velásques knowledge of different European styles.
Caravadjo’s art most influenced Velasquez. His works, painted during his student days in 1618-1619, are excellent realistic paintings of domestic scenes like ‘Woman Frying Eggs’ and ‘Christ in the House of Mary Martha’.
In these paintings, Velasquez has softened the sharp contrasts of Caravaggio’s shadow and light, making the scenes appear more realistic. There is peace and thoughtful seriousness in the human figures and the surrounding environment which reminds of the art of Thurvaran.
His painting ‘Water Carrier’, made in 1619, has become more beautiful in terms of its peaceful atmosphere. The glass cup depicted in the center contains clear transparent water and the cup attached to the hands of the water holder and the boy has created a sense of intimacy between the two.
The water bearer’s left hand is affectionately caressing the brightly lit water pitcher kept in the foreground. This picture holds a separate place among the paintings of domestic scenes due to the subtle vision of intense emotions expressed with controlled simplicity.
In the last years of his residence in Seville, Velasquez painted several religious paintings with a marked change of style. In the paintings ‘Immaculate Assumption’ and ‘Saint John at Patamas’, instead of the dark and brown colors of the earlier realistic paintings, a delightful effect with soft glimpses of lightly contrasting purple, blue and pink colors has been achieved, with a more bold brushstroke. Have done.”
In 1623, Velasquez went to Madrid, where his portrait of King Philip IV was highly praised and he was appointed to the royal court.
The environment there was nourishing for his art and he got the opportunity to study selected works of great Italian painters stored in the royal palace.
His personal portraits made in the last six years are influenced by the personal portraits of the Spanish royal family made by Tichen. But his painting ‘Sharabi’ of the same period seems to have a combined influence of Caravadjyo, Tichen Ribera and Rubens.
The new elements of dynamism and gaiety present in this picture of Velasquez may have been adopted by him from Rubens because at this time Rubens had come to Spain and he had used Velasquez’s office with him for eight months.
Rubens came to Madrid for political reasons, but as soon as he arrived there, he decided to make many paintings, including personal portraits of the members of the royal family and copied the paintings of Tichen and Raphael.
Velasquez was impressed by Rubens’ personality, the maturity and charm of the sensual appeal of his painted figures, and the diversity of Rubens’s painting method.
Perhaps on the advice of Rubens, Velazquez went to Italy in 1629, where he studied the paintings of Tintoretto, Guercino, Michelangelo, Raphael and Ribera for a year.
Due to this study, his painting method became more efficient and fearless and he came to know the importance of the effects of shadow, light and space in painting.
His individual painting ‘Olivares on horseback’, made in 1634, not only has the same skill as Tichen, but the light reflected on the clothes appears more vivid.
The grandeur and excellence of his famous painting ‘The Surrender of Breda’ (1635) may have been derived from the study of Veronese. But his paintings ‘Philip IV’ and ‘Child Balyasar Carlos’ are the best examples of the originality and maturity of his art.
From 1636 to 1648, due to being busy in the political work assigned by the king, he was not able to do special paintings, but even during this period, he made paintings of ‘Aesop’ and ‘Mars’ and paintings of court dwarfs and jesters, in which the realistic vision of the external form was shown. It is a productive expression of additional human emotions.
In 1649–51 he stayed in Italy to buy paintings and sculptures for the king. There he made many excellent portraits, including the portrait of Pope Innocent Tenth, which is counted among the finest portraits of the Baroque period.
In this picture, apart from his exceptional drawing skills, his short temper, egotism and playful nature are an effective expression of the Pope’s personality. In comparison to this picture, two nature paintings made by Medici Garden in Rome are opposite in terms of gentle loveliness.
His painting ‘Venus and Cupid’, with its gentle, delightful complexion and graceful figures depicted with slow moving lines, is one of the best artworks in the world.
After returning to Madrid, due to being busy in government work, he was able to make only about a dozen paintings in the last 9-10 years of his life, but during that period, some of his best works were created, of which his painting ‘Princess and Maids’ was considered the best Is.
In this picture, in a grand room of the royal palace, the girl princess Margarita has been depicted presenting something in a bottle kept in a vessel and the maids are greeting her.
There is affection and naturalness in the postures of the maids and nowhere is there the formality often seen in photographs. A child has stepped on a sitting dog, in the background two people are busy talking, Kanchuki has raised the curtain and the painter himself is painting.
This is a very natural depiction of the common daily life in the palace. Looking at this incident with loving eyes, the painter has filled the entire atmosphere with family intimacy by painting the blurred images of the king and queen in the hanging mirror.
It was a unique thing at that time to depict such an unimportant domestic incident. Apart from the heart-touching depiction of tender family feelings, this painting has depicted the gentle light inside the house and the gradual changes taking place in its background very skillfully, which no painter had done till now.
From the point of view of the effect of light, this picture comes in the category of paintings of Dutch interiors. This painting is unique in its artistic qualities like skillful composition, attractive gentle color consistency, sweet handling of shades of different colors in the areas of shadow and light, proper marking of shapes somewhere clear and somewhere soft, vague but correct lines etc.
Another of his paintings ‘Spinners’, in which women have been depicted spinning and weaving yarn in a wall curtain factory, comes in the category of paintings of domestic scenes and has become equally natural and superior considering the result.
Velázquez’s paintings of the children of the royal family in their last years are full of affection and human charm. Velasquez made very few paintings on religious subjects and was not particularly interested in their creative work, although his paintings ‘Crucifixion of Jesus’ and ‘Anointing of the Virgin Mary’ are excellent examples of controlled expression.
In contrast to Velazquez, the Spanish painter Murillo (1618–82) painted mostly religious subjects. He was born in Seville and did business there all his life.
In his early period from 1640 to 45, his art work mainly followed Thurvaran and Ribera. He became famous for his 11 paintings based on the life of Saint Francis made in the Franciscan Monastery of Seville.
The visual appearance of these paintings is dramatic and contemporary. There is natural posture and emotionality in the figures emerged due to densification.
There has been some artificiality in the sentiment of the paintings of poor children and flower girls made in the later period, but the paintings have become attractive due to the variety of shades of different soft colors, soft brushwork and warm atmospheric effect.
The composition and color elegance of his famous painting ‘The Wedding of Cana’ can be considered the result of Veronese’s study.
Apart from the above mentioned best painters of Spain of the Baroque period, Cano, Pereda, Valdes Leal were also very famous painters.