Monday, 6 August 2012

Diego Velázquez and The Needlewoman

'The Needlewoman' (1635-43) by Diego Velázquez; National Gallery of Art,
Washington D.C.

Diego Velázquez, baptised June 6, 1599 and died on August 6, 1660, was one of the greatest and most famous Spanish painters of the 17th century. Most of his work I don't really like. He was a court painter so painted mainly portraits of the Spanish royal family and of the members of the court. One of his most famous works is Las Meninas ('Maids of Honour') which I have seen in Museo del Prado in Madrid. I don't really like that one although it sort of grows on you because it is so famous and often being used in art courses. I have very recently seen another painting by Velázquez, here in Rome where I am on a holiday now. Last Saturday we went to the wonderful Galleria Doria Pamphilj where I have seen beautiful paintings by Italian masters. But the collection's masterpiece is Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X. It is hanging in a small separate room to maximise its grandeur and beauty. I have to say that I have seen reproductions of this painting and I wasn't too impressed but seeing it in real life definitely made a difference. The painting I have chosen for today is one that I do like, The Needlewoman, and I actually had never seen it before and would not have attributed it to Velázquez. The portrait is unfinished but I wouldn't have guessed if I hadn't read it. It looks quite finished to me. I just read the whole Wikipedia page on the painting and I hadn't really been wrong in thinking that it was not a typical Velázquez painting. It is said that Velázquez started the painting but that it was completed by his son-in-law, Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo. If you want to know more about the artist Velázquez himself, click on the first link above.

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