Diego Velázquez, born as Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, was a Spanish painter and a prestigious court painter for Spain’s King Philip IV. He was also one of the most significant artists of the Spanish Golden Age. He frequently employed powerful modeling and stark contrasts of light in his works, reminiscent of the dramatic lighting style known as tenebrism.
In 1599, Velázquez was born as the first of six children to Juan Rodríguez de Silva, a notary, and Jerónima Velázquez in Seville, Spain. The exact date of his birth was unknown. His parents gave him excellent instruction in philosophy, languages, and religion. His father saw his son's early aptitude for drawing and set up an apprenticeship for Velázquez to study with Francisco de Herrera the Elder. He was later trained by Francisco Pacheco when he was 12 years old. Velázquez reached a critical turning point in his life when he was just eighteen years old. He applied to the Painter's Guild of St. Luke and was approved, which launched his solo artistic career in 1617. The majority of his early works in this period were religious or generic scenes.
In 1627, Velázquez's portrait of Philip IV, unfortunately destroyed in 1734 by fire, won him big success and an appointment as a court painter. Due to his position, he was able to travel to Italy in 1629 and view paintings by Titian, who had the most influence on his style. During this time, he painted The Forge of Vulcan and Joseph's Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob.
Later Years and Death
In 1649, Velázquez returned to Rome and painted a portrait of Pope Innocent X. When he arrived back in Madrid, his patron, King Philip IV, appointed him Supreme Court Marshal, which allowed him to grow his painting studio. In 1656, he painted his most famous work, Las Meninas, a group portrait of the Spanish Royal Family with the 5-year-old Infanta Margaret Theresa at the center.
On August 6, 1660, Velázquez died at the age of 61.