“His landscapes are unprecedented; his still lifes almost sacramental; his fables are real and human.”
And yet, with all of this, it’s in his portraiture that Diego Velasquez’s genius utterly excelled:
His portraits are not just the living, breathing likeness, but the seeing, feeling being in the very moment of life and thought. Nobody has ever surpassed his way of making pictures that seem to represent the experience–the immediacy–of seeing in themselves.
Laura Cumming in The Vanishing Velasquez
These Taschen art books have become great favorites with me. The local library system owns quite a few of them. Just enter “Taschen” in the keyword field and you’ll get a list.
This portrait inspired Francis Bacon to create his “Screaming Pope” series. Officially titled “Study after Velasquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X,” Bacon painted over forty-five variants on this theme. Here are three:
Is it just me, or are these like something out of a nightmare?
At the other end of the spectrum, here’s the magnificent portrait of Juan de Pareja:
I well recall the excitement generated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s acquisition of this masterpiece, The year was 1971; the cost was upwards of $5.5 million dollars. We couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of it, my mother and I. And now, though I’ve seen it many times since, it never fails to astonish.