Archive for the ‘Great Portraitists’ Category

Giovanni Bellini

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Giovanni Bellini established a Venetian school of painting and as a painter himself; he has substantial knowledge about Renaissance art. His style in painting was derived from realism; he pursued subjects that gave rich amounts of meaning and message defined with emphasis in color and form. Giovanni Bellini started his humble beginnings in Venice, Italy, where he inherited his painting skills from his father who was once a painter of the 15th century Gothic revival artists. He was also inspired by a family member, his impressive brother in law Andrea Mantegna, who influenced him a lot when he started the first phase of his painting career and gradually learned to develop his own painting styles. His technique focused on softer shapes and an oozing poetic aura. From then on, Bellini started to master his skills by making pieces of art with religious and humanity themes.

Bellini is considered to be one of the leading portrait painters of the Venetian Renaissance because of his unique way of creating his masterpieces. His compositions in his paintings are superb in a way that they exuded serene self-sufficiency of values in his paintings. His techniques are composed in sculpturesque form, giving well defined contour lines with deep eloquence and great impact on compositional philosophy.

His Pieta Painting is made in oil canvas. The picture itself connotes a religious theme; it is evident in this picture that Jesus is supported by his mother The Virgin Mary and St. John. The composition is perfectly toned in colors, giving emphasis on the main theme and the atmospheric shades of tones supplied serenity and charm. This is yet another of his revolutionary paintings that is composed in rich tints with perfectly detailed intricacies of shades. The coloring is eloquent and fluent which gave a great effect on the whole portrait. The Pieta Painting shows grieving mourners of Jesus who is in agony. In its biblical theme, it somehow made the piece as timeless, classical, and poignant. The characters of the painting conveyed strong emotions that definitely reach out to its the viewers; Virgin Mary looks into the eyes of his dying son Jesus Christ, exerting painful effort to support his son. There is a sorrowful pain in her eyes as she closely looks and witnesses his son’s agony. The scene alone with Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ is deeply moving; there is a feeling of hope that his son could still be alive and escape death. The wounds can be seen on each hand of Jesus Christ because of the crucifixion, with his fingers curled in pain. On the right, St. John the Evangelist is bursting in sorrow and devastation; looking away from Mary because of the unbearable scene between a mother and a child both suffering from anguish and pain.

The three characters are consoled closely. In the foreground the scene is drawn in infinite perspective; the sky is painted in grey blue which conveyed an emotion of indifference and highlights torment and devastation of the characters. Certainly, the composition of colors and intricate details made the painting moving and agonizing. This is truly a kind of painting that will forever be considered as a timeless, biblical piece.

Author:   Shyxter

Albrecht Dürer

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Albrecht Dürerwas a German painter, printmaker, talented artist, and theoretical writer.  He was born on the 21st of May 1471 in Nuremberg to a goldsmith father.  He was conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance during his 20’s because of his outstanding prints which gained reputation across Europe.  In 1486 at the age of 15, he became an apprentice of Michael Wolgemut, a leading artist in Nuremberg at that time.  In 1494 he was married to Agnes Frey at a very young age of 23.  He travelled to Italy within three months to further study about the artistic world.  When he came back to Nuremberg in 1495, he opened his own workshop there.  On July 1521, upon returning from his journey to the Netherlands to secure his pension, he contracted an undetermined disease which affected him greatly for the rest of his life and reduced his rate of work.  He produced little as an artist during the last years of his life in contrast to his early years.  He died on the 6th of April 1528 at the prime age of 56.

Although Dürer is most famous in his woodcut illustrations, he also made several paintings.  He also created three self-portraits during his lifetime.  He was a realist painter at the time, and travelled to different places in order to learn different techniques about painting.  Most of his works centered on Roman Catholic life, since he was a Roman Catholic himself with very strong beliefs.  His use of watercolor in his paintings made him as one of the European landscape artist and his woodcuts transformed the potential of the medium. He also introduced the classical motif into Northern art, thus acquiring his status as one of the most important figures of the northern renaissance.  Later, he learned how the chiaroscuro modeling effect and used it in his successive paintings.  He also created such portraits in tempera on linen.

One of his major works was his self-portrait, which was painted in 1500 right before his 29th birthday.  It was a self-portrait which then was known as Self-Portrait in a Wig or Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight Years Old Wearing a Coat with Fur Collar. It was considered as symbolic, personal, and also the most complicated of his self-portrait paintings.  This self-portrait became popular because it is arrogantly suggesting of divinity because of its high resemblance to many representations of Christ in early years.  The dark fields on both sides of the painting depict the highly symbolic meaning of the portrait.  The use of the brown tones that was set against the plain black background gives a somber mood. In this self-portrait, it is seen that Dürer’s style of painting had developed into classicism, as was said by an art historian named Marcel Brion.

Dürer is most influential and remembered through his talent in printmaking because this was the main avenue where his colleagues witnessed his art. He had made many paintings but most of them were held as private compilations in selected cities. In the world of painting, Dürer left a minor impact in Italy but his best piece was the altarpiece in Venice. His deep and melodramatic self-portraits did make a powerful impact even up to this time as more artists created dramatic self-portraits of their own.

Author:   Shyxter

Francisco de Goya

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, well-known as Francisco Goya, was born on the 30th of March, 1746 in Fuendetodos, Aragon, Spain. At the age of 14, he became an apprentice of a painter named Jose Luzan. He then later moved to Madrid to study painting. He was married to Josefa Bayeu in 1773, a sister of Francisco Bayeu who was a Saragossa artist. He later became a well-known portrait painter to the Spanish aristocracy and was considered a romantic painter and print-maker; he was then recognized as a painter to the king in 1786. In 1789, he was designated as a court painter. In 1792, he was left permanently deaf by an illness that struck him. He continued to paint more portrait paintings until he died in April 16, 1828 in Bordeaux at the age of 82. He was buried in Bordeaux but his remains were transferred to the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida in Madrid in the year 1919.

Francisco de Goya was considered as one of the most famed painter of all time because he was a Romantic painter at first before he began to paint religious paintings. He was considered by many people as the Father of Modern Art because his unique perspective was not only fresh but also original. His paintings, not only portrait paintings, became famous also because of the delicate tonalities that can be found in them. The majority of Goya’s paintings are famous for having realistically bold techniques and haunting satire. The subversive and imaginative elements that can be found in his paintings provided as a model for later generation artists.

De Goya had a unique capability to find a universal and timeless meaning in a certain instances of human behavior and became an inspiration to the succeeding generations of artists. He also influenced some of the great artists in the 20th century, the most famous is Pablo Picasso. The succeeding lineage of influences that was made by Goya has encouraged a lot of people to give a label as the “first modernist” of his time.

The best example of Francisco de Goya’s renowned paintings is Christ Crucified, which is considered as one of the best in the world. The Christ Crucified is a portrait painting of Christ who is nailed on the cross. The style that he used in this painting is neoclassical. De Goya obeyed the rules of the Spanish Baroque Iconography in portraying the Crucifixion of Christ, as created by Francisco Pacheco. He removed here the emphasis of devotional features such as drama, presence of blood, and the like, by obeying the rules. This was in order to have the attention of people on the soft modeling of the painting. This painting is one of his most special portrait paintings since this area of painting is one of the most difficult to convey.

Many of Francisco de Goya’s famous paintings are being displayed in the El Prado art museum in Madrid.

Author:  Shyxter


Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Titian or properly known as Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio was an Italian painter known for his versatilestyle in painting portraits, landscapes, and religious themes. Titian was considered to be the most vital student of the 16th century Venetian school as he was also raised in Pieve di Cadore, close to Belluno in Veneto in the Republic of Venice. Titian was called after his birthplace da Cadore and later on was designated to Il Divino.

Titian, though born in Venice, was indirectly inclined to the Venetian lagoons and Adriatics. He was able to broaden his sense in a different way through observation and perception. During the time Venice was caught up in war, Titian was able to record in a painting the victory of Venice during the battle of Cadore. Since then, the exemplary portrait paintings of Titian lived on.

Titian was recognized as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars” which was taken from the line of Dante’s Paradiso, his painting technique was focused in the application of colors and its use that would at the same time emanate a profound influence not just during the Renaissance era but also to the future eras of Western Art. In the long run of Titian’s life, his manner of painting has changed but he never failed to emphasize his subject through the use of colors. In his more matured works, his paintings were not anymore that vivid and luminous but his loose brushwork accentuated the intricate elements of his polychromatic methods that was never topped down in the history of Western Art. During this period, Titian was gaining mastery and maturity in his pieces. He moved forward from his already renowned Giorgionesque style for a more monumental and complex themes.

His particular portrait painting, the Penitent of Mary Magdalene, was just one of his religious subjects. In this masterpiece, Mary Magdalene is showing a deep melancholic emotion with teary eyes looking at the heavens, clearly manifesting spiritual devotion. During the times when Catholic religion was bombarded with challenges by the followers of the Protestant reformation, this painting actually had seven versions. Each version went through X-ray examinations and the researchers found out that Titian has made several changes in the composition but the idea or the theme of the subject is still intact. The best version of this painting can be found in Hermitage and it is considered unique for it is the only version that displays Magdalene’s Bible that lies on a cloth rather than a skull – which has a symbolic meaning of death. Titian’s idea of Mary Magdalene connotes a profound emotion that would instantly affect those who would look at the painting; the image of Mary Magdalene is poignant that induces pity over desire.

The painting’s focal theme is on religious subject but a strong and erotic display of emotion is also depicted in this piece. Sunk down in a gesture of sacred penitence, her breasts are partly covered in a provocative manner. The portrait is more than extraordinary; the way he manipulated the colors brought out the deep sense of the whole painting. The way the light is reflected just made it look more brilliant, bringing silhouette on Magdalene’s breast covered with cloth.

Since then, Penitent of Mary Magdalene painting was considered to be one of the most influential as it conveys a religious message that somehow affects the viewer’s opinion on spiritual devotion. Its intricate details that are perfectly associated with colors will everlastingly serve as a piece of resemblance on how Catholicism has affected the religious view of an individual. The magnificent effect of this portrait painting will certainly give vital lessons to future painters who have the same desire as with Titian.

Author:  Shyxter

Théodore Géricault

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Jean Louis André Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) was born in Rouen, France but spent most of his school days at Paris. Théodore Géricault’s life and career personifies Romanticism. A classmate of renowned painter Delacroix and at the same time studied with Vernet and Guerin. Géricault’s unhappy love affair led him to fly to Italy to study Michelangelo’s style of artwork which influenced him in making sculptural drawings as his earliest works. In 1812, Géricault displayed his baroque painting “Officer of the Imperial Guard, composed of synthetic Venetian colors which made the painting look striking and influential.

After a couple of years, Géricault created the “Wounded Cuirassier” painting during his involvement with the Bourbon Musketeers, which at the same time he served as a cavalry officer to the French royal house. Most of Géricault’s works manifest political mishaps in France which clearly earned disapproval from the French government. Géricault then went to England and experienced triumph in his works and enjoyed elegant lifestyle.

Unlike any other portrait painters, Géricault had a different approach of his subject in his portrait paintings. He conveyed expressive emotional realisms in each of his subject with a touch of bravura style which made the paintings look remarkable. Géricault came from a family with psychological issues in the past, an unforgettable experience which gave him the idea on taking individuals with psychological problems as his subject; the insane and the mentally ill. He painted in extremes with compelling sense of exceptional and classical portrayal of the figures and formation of the masterpieces in comparison to the hurly-burly of the subject, and bridging the gap between the styles of neo-classicism and romanticism.

His famous portrait painting “Woman Suffering from Obsessive Envy”, also known as the Hyena of the Salpêtrière (displayed in Musee des Beaux Arts, Lyon), was evident of Géricault’s interest of an individual’s psychological imbalance as he had been to mental institutions before which inspired his creations in an odd way.  Made in oil canvas, this painting was just one of the series of five portraits of mad people. It showed a woman’s bulging eyes conveying fear and distress.

Géricault’s paintings seemed odd and strange but the main point of his artwork went beyond stereotyped portraitures. He instead gave importance to the deeper sense of his portrait paintings, like the Insane Woman’s portrait in which he caught the intricate elements of the woman’s entire loo, including her clothing and cap and her eccentric expression; eyes brimmed with sorrowful sufferings which perfectly conveyed her actual emotions and a strong state of hypnotic power.

Géricault focused on the diversity of emotions in his subjects, engaging in realism and catching the truth. He was interested with the different mental states of a human’s face which revealed character and varying emotions.  Géricault made several studies of the individuals locked in asylums and mental institutions; he even considered studying the heads of the guillotine victims. This was how obsessed this eccentric painter was on his subjects.

He was a painter who looked into the extremes of his subject without getting overrated and conventional. His realism and sense of truth was unlike any other painter known in history.

Author:  Shyxter

Anthony van Dyck

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Sir Anthony van Dyck, a leading court painter in England, was a Flemish Baroque artist. He was born on March 22, 1599 with the Flemish name Antoon van Dyck in Antwerp. He clearly showed talent at an early age while studying under Hendrick van Balen in 1609. In the year 1615, he started as an independent painter and had already set up a workshop with a younger friend Jan Brueghel the Younger. And by the time he was 15, he was already known as a highly accomplished artist. In 1632, King Charles I invited him to England to become a court painter. He was wed to Mary Ruthven, the Earl of Gowrie’s grand-daughter, in 1639 and they had an only daughter who was born on December 1, 1641.

Anthony van Dyck was considered by Peter Paul Rubens as one of his best pupils. He acquired all the skill and technique of Rubens, with regards to rendering the texture and surface of things, while working under him for years. But with regards to temperament and mood, he differed greatly from his master. His paintings always had a slightly melancholic and a lethargic mood, in which may had been the reason why it caught the people’s attention. While he was in England, he developed his own style in portrait painting which was a combination of a relaxed elegance and ease with a discreet authority of his subjects. His style dominated the realm of English portrait-painting until the end of the 18th century. He was famous for having the ability to portray the human figure with natural dignity and authority in his portraits.

Van Dyck was well-known for his portraits of King Charles I of England and Scotland, his family, and court. His most famous work truly was the portrait of King Charles I of England and it was clearly shown in the painting the technique he used, which visibly portrayed King Charles as a person with relaxed elegance, natural authority, and dignity. Representing the human figure to have the above mentioned qualities was Anthony van Dyck’s technique.

Aside from the portraits of King Charles I and his family, he also created various paintings of people and religiously inspired images.  Before becoming a court painter, Anthony van Dyck spent six years in Italy and studied under various master painters and learned their techniques, particularly Titian who influenced him the most. While he was in Italy, he earned his living through creating portraits especially of the Genoese Aristocracy. He became a well-known portrait painter of the English court and aristocracy. He created over 350 portraits, including royal portraits, in just less than 10 years.

Anthony van Dyck died in London on the 9th of December 1641, just a few days after his daughter was born. He was then buried in St. Paul Cathedral. His death was so untimely but his painting style persisted for more than two centuries all over Europe. And because of his great contribution to the world of portrait painting, he earned the recognition of being one of the greatest painters of all time.

Author:   Shyxter

Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Leonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci, most popularly known as Leonardo da Vinci, was an Italian Renaissance polymath. He was a painter as well as a sculptor, engineer and many more. He was born on the 15th of April 1452, as an illegitimate son of Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, a notary, and Caterina, a peasant woman. He has no surname, ‘da Vinci’ means ‘of Vinci’, so in other terms his name means ‘Leonardo of Vinci’. In the earlier time of his life, he was educated in the studio of Verrochio, a renowned painter in Florence during that time. He then worked in service for Ludovico il Morro in Milan, and then later he spent his life in Rome, Bologna and in Venice. He spent the last years of his life in the home awarded to him by Francis I in France, teaching prospective painters.

Leornardo da Vinci is considered as one of the best portrait painters of all time due to his unique technique that makes a portrait painting look real and three dimensional. He used an innovative technique in his painting, especially portrait paintings, which other painters during his time don’t know of. One of the great things about da Vinci is his great knowledge about how humans register emotions through the face and through gestures; his in-depth understanding about anatomy and the like made it possible for him to paint precise body parts of each person in his paintings.

In the portraits that he painted, he used a technique called Sfumato, wherein the colors and edges are softened with dark glazes. It can also be called a subtle gradation of tone; it looks like the colors are fading thus, making the painting look more real. The application of the Sfumato technique was very prominent in da Vinci’s paintings; and he was the one who conceptualized the technique. Another style that he used in painting portraits is known as Chiaroscuro, which is a way of shading that uses the brightness of the color rather than color itself.

It can be observed that da Vinci always uses these techniques in his portrait painting, wherein he employs different shades of a specific color rather than using a lot of different colors. He expands the range of luminance in his portraits than using numerous hues as other artists do. Another da Vinci style is the use of Velatura technique in his portraits, where the colors or paints are mixed in a canvas rather than in a palette. This style gives a milky or foggy haze that makes what is underneath vague.

Undoubtedly, the most famous of his works is the Mona Lisa painting. It can be seen in this work of art that da Vinci used the Sfumato technique at the corner of the woman’s eyes and mouth to make it look alive and real. By this, the tones blend with one another and it eliminates sharp lines thus creating an atmospheric effect. The liveliness of the Mona Lisa painting was even more enhanced as da Vinci mixed the colors in a canvas and not in a palette.

In the later years of his life, he spent it living in Belvedere in Vatican, Rome. In 1516, he was given the permission to use of the manor house Clos Luce, which is near the King’s residence. He then spent the last three years of his life in the manor accompanied by his apprentice at the same time his friend Count Francesco Melzi and was supported by a total of 10, 000 scudi pension. Da Vinci’s life ended in the manor on May 2, 1519.

Author:   Shyxter

John Singer Sargent

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was known for his great pieces of portraits during his generation. Most of his pieces are Edwardian Era inspired. You may be awed of the number of portrait paintings he has made throughout his career; he crafted 900 oil paintings and over 2, 000 watercolors along with countless sketch works and charcoal drawings. His original compositions have travelled across the globe like Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine and Florida.

John Singer Sargent is an American emigrant who went to school as a French artist in Paris before he moved to London. Sargent was globally acclaimed to be a great portrait painter in Paris but despite his brilliant credentials in portrait painting, his portrait work Madame X in Salon has raised some issues though he considered it as his best piece of all time.

The scandal affected him badly that he left Paris regardless of the stature of his career. He decided to settle in England and pursued his love for the arts. Sargent was an intellectual diversified painter, an Impressionist, a Classical Portraitist, a Landscape Artist, and a public Muralist. His paintings were criticized for he lacks trend and radical thought in his art pieces, but instead he worked within established styles in rich textured pallets. His brilliance in incorporating the elements in painting techniques was never acknowledged.

One of his most famous masterpieces is the portrait he made for President Theodore Roosevelt in an oil canvas. Prior to this painting, Sargent and Roosevelt roamed around the White House to look for a perfect lighting. In this portrait piece he used some nuanced blacks, grays, browns and creams. Sargent’s unique style of combining color elements made the portrait of President Roosevelt so vivid that it looked more lifelike; the pose was surreal of respect and dignity.

In his watercolor works, he derived his techniques from an artistic inspiration. Sargent used wax resists, challenging washes, and varied brushstrokes to express his subjects with intense accuracy and emphasis. He usually started with a pencil drawing, over which he layered the watercolor and sometimes added gouache (another water-based paint type).

Sargent always included sensual brushstrokes in his oil paintings, which was clearly seen in his portrait work for Pres. Roosevelt. His works were always a subject of criticism to the point that he was accused to be an admirer of the Post-Impressionists. Though Sargent denied it, he still considered El Greco as one of his painting influences.

Sargent never failed to stress out vital strokes to define the importance of his subject. Whatever object is involved, Sargent intricately employed these strokes in his portrait works. From the texture of the fur, the sheen of silk, the knots in the lace, the rays of the sun, even a rosy-colored cheek, Sargent embodied all the minute details in every stroke. He was not the kind to generalize it all in one stroke but he carefully defined each detail in a vivid manner. Sargent was not just a plain painter, he captured every detail of the moment and the result was always exceptional and brilliant. He is able to bring impact to every subject of his painting.

Sargent put passion with great intensity in all his artworks even though circumstances were tough; he never stopped to fulfill his passion in arts. Today as many painters have already emerged, Sargent’s brilliant artworks have infused art with clear and direct perspective on his subjects. His masterpieces conveyed clear messages and thought.

Author:   Shyxter


Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Raffaello Santi, more famously known as Raphael, was an Italian artist born on April 6,1483 in the artistic city of Urbino, Italy. Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, was also artistically inclined as a court painter and a poet. He was deeply influenced by his father’s passion for the arts. His mother, Magia, died early in 1491 when Raphael was just eight years old. He was completely orphaned when his father died in 1494, where he lived with his uncle Bartolome who was a priest.

Raphael was a multi-talented artist as he excelled in the fields of portrait painting, architecture, history, and poetry.  He is one of the 3 three greatest artists of the High Renaissance, an Italian period of remarkable artistic creation from the 1490s to the 1520s. He is most recognized for his Madonna paintings and murals in the Vatican Palace.

Raphael’s first art lessons were with his father and when he reached sixteen, he became a student of Pietro Perugino who was a well-known painter and teacher of the Italian Renaissance. According to art gurus, most of Raphael’s works clearly show the influence of his teacher Perugino. During that time, art experts found it hard to distinguish Perugino’s work from Raphael’s as the two artists seem to employ similar painting techniques. It is said that “probably no other pupil of genius has ever absorbed so much of his master’s teaching as Raphael did”. Raphael’s technique was just like his teacher, where he applied paint densely in oil varnish mediums.

At twenty-one, Raphael went to live in Florence where he studied the styles of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo. Many say that he copied the style of these two artists, but as he progressed he was able to make a unique blend of his own technique and Florentine art. Raphael’s portraits have light atmospheres, balanced movements and compositions, and impeccable richness and clarity in color. He loved painting nature and portraits of people. In his paintings, he employed the faces of his family and friends and showed a great reverence for women.

One of Raphael’s most renowned paintings is the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, an oil painting of Baldassare Castiglione who was a humanist and an ambassador to the Pope. Castiglione and Raphael were good friends and in his portrait painting, Raphael perfectly illustrated the marks of an accomplished and well-respected personality. Raphael distinctly depicted his friend in the portrait as an elegant and intelligent gentleman.

The Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione showed a simple but unique blend of 4 shades only – white, black, gray, and a little bit of beige. The portrait was covered in a subtle light in which Castiglione’s shadow slightly fades at the right side. Raphael made sure that the face and penetrating gaze of Castiglione are the focus of the painting by purposely cutting the portrait at the hands of his model.

Raphael’s life was abruptly finished when he died of severe fever at the age of 37. A very interesting fact is that he was born on a Good Friday and died on the day of his birthday, April 6, 1520. Although he left behind an incomplete transformation in the world of arts, his skills as an excellent artist made a great mark in history.

Author:  Shyxter

Diego Velazquez

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Las Meninas Portrait

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, known to the world as Diego Velazquez, is not only Spain’s most renowned painter but also one of the best artists of all ages. Born a few days before his baptism on June 6, 1599 in Seville, Spain, he was the eldest child of Jeronima Velazquez and Juan Rodríguez de Silva. Both his parents came from average nobility; as his mother belonged to the lesser gentry of the Hidalgo class while his father was a lawyer who came from a decent Portuguese ancestry. He carried the surname of his mother since it was a Spanish tradition that the firstborn male will preserve his mother’s heritage.

Velazquez had a religious upbringing and was given a good education by his parents. He took up language and philosophy trainings and eventually revealed his great interest for the arts. He studied under a highly spirited painter, Francisco de Herrera, and for one year Velazquez mastered using paint brushes with extended bristles. When he turned 12, he left Herrera’s school and became a trainee of Francisco Pacheco. Pacheco was just an ordinary artist teacher in Seville but his upfront practicality trained Velazquez to have a good eye on artistic angles and proportions. He stayed with Pacheco for five years and at the age of 19, he married his teacher’s daughter. He went to Madrid in 1622 and became the official portraitist of the Spanish royal family and other prominent European personalities.

This Spanish portraitist had a very distinctive style like no other European artist. Aside from portraits, Velazquez also made paintings about history, culture, religion, nature, and everyday life. Because of his varied works, he became known as the “noblest and most commanding man among the artists of his country”. The realism in his paintings was unparalleled, as the characters and settings on his portraits seem to breathe life. Velazquez was very good at color combinations, and his painting style showed a great balance of light and line elements. Because of this, his contemporaries regarded him as “the painter’s painter”. He has greatly influenced painters of the succeeding generation in the likes of Bartolome Murillo, Francisco de Goya, and Edouard Manet.

The Las Meninas, or Maids of Honour, is known to be the finest painting in the Western realm and one of the most bewildering too. There is a certain combination of realism and delusion in the painting that makes it complex and mysterious. It shows a room in the palace of King Philip IV with some of the characters looking directly towards the viewer of the painting. Velazquez showed himself in the picture but the main figure was the Infanta Margarita, the Spanish princess, with her maids and chaperones. According to art analysts, the Las Meninas painting portrays that “art and life are an illusion”. Velazquez might have wanted to convey that life for him is a dream too. The portrait can also be understood as a depiction of Velazquez’s career being the royal family’s Official of the Court, in which he served as such for most of his life.

Author: Shyxter