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Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Seville, baptized on June 6, 1599 – Madrid, August 6, 1660), known as Diego Velázquez , was a Spanish baroque painter considered one of the greatest exponents of Spanish painting and master of universal painting.
He spent his first years in Seville, where he developed a naturalistic style of tenebrist lighting, influenced by Caravaggio and his followers. At age 24 he moved to Madrid, where he was named painter to King Philip IV and four years later was promoted to camera painter, the most important position among the court painters. In this work he devoted the rest of his life. His job was to paint portraits of the king and his family, as well as other paintings destined to decorate the royal mansions. His presence at the court allowed him to study the royal collection of paintings that, together with the teachings of his first trip to Italy, where he met both the old painting and the one that was done in his time, were decisive influences to evolve to a style of great luminosity, with quick and loose brushstrokes. In his maturity, from 1631, he painted in this way great works such as The Surrender of Breda. In his last decade his style became more schematic and sketchy, reaching an extraordinary mastery of light. This period was inaugurated with the Portrait of Pope Innocent X, painted on his second trip to Italy, and to him belong his last two masterpieces: Las Meninas and Las Hilanderas.
Its catalog consists of about 120 or 130 works. The recognition as a universal painter occurred late, around 1850. It reached its maximum fame between 1880 and 1920, coinciding with the time of the French impressionist painters, for which it was a reference. Manet felt marveled at his work and called him “a painter of painters” and “the greatest painter who has ever existed.” The fundamental part of his paintings that made up the royal collection is kept in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
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