Zurbaran was appointed painter to Philip IV. before he was thirty-five years old. He was a great favorite with Philip, who once called Zurbaran “the painter of the king, and king of painters.” Zurbaran’s finest works are in the Museum of Seville. He left many pictures, and the Louvre claims to have ninety-two of them in its gallery.

Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez (1599-1660) was born at Seville, and died at Madrid. His parents were of noble families; his father was Juan Rodriguez de Silva, and his mother Geronima Velasquez, by whose name, according to the custom of Andalusia, he was called. His paternal grandfather was a Portuguese, but so poor that he was compelled to leave his own country, and seek his fortune at Seville, and to this circumstance Spain owes her greatest painter. Velasquez’s father became a lawyer, and lived in comfort, and his mother devoted herself to his education. The child’s great love of drawing induced his father to place young Velasquez in the school of Herrera, where the pupil acquired something of his free, bold style. But Velasquez soon became weary, and entered the school of Francisco Pacheco, an inferior painter, but a learned and polished gentleman. Here Velasquez soon learned that untiring industry and the study of nature were the surest guides to perfection for an artist. Until 1622 he painted pictures from careful studies of common life, and always with the model or subject before him—adhering strictly to form, color, and outline. He is said to have kept a peasant lad for a study, and from him executed a variety of heads in every posture and with every possible expression. This gave him wonderful skill in taking likenesses. To this period belong the “Water Carrier of Seville,” now at Apsley House, several pictures of beggars, and the “Adoration of the Shepherds,” now in the Louvre, where is also a “Beggar Boy munching a piece of Pastry.” At Vienna is a “Laughing Peasant” holding a flower (Fig. 64), and in Munich another “Beggar Boy.” In 1622 his strong desire to see the paintings in the Royal Galleries led him to Madrid. Letters which he carried gave him admission to the works of art; but excepting securing the friendship of Fonesca, a noted patron of art, and an order to paint a portrait of the poet Gongora, he was unnoticed, and so he returned in a few months to Seville. Subsequently Fonesca interested the minister Olivarez in his behalf. This resulted in a letter summoning Velasquez to court, with an enclosure of fifty ducats for the journey. He was attended by his slave, Juan Pareja, a mulatto lad, who was his faithful attendant for many years, and who became an excellent painter. His former instructor, Pacheco, now his father-in-law, also accompanied him. His first work at the capital, naturally, was a portrait of his friend Fonesca, which so pleased the king, Philip IV., that he appointed Velasquez to his service, in which he remained during his life. This gave him full opportunity to perfect himself, for the king was never weary of multiplying pictures of himself. Velasquez also painted many portraits of the other members of the royal family, in groups and singly. His life was even and prosperous, and he made steady advances toward perfection. He was sent to Italy to study and to visit the galleries and works in all the cities. A second time the king sent him to Italy to purchase works of art, with orders to buy anything he thought worth having. He was everywhere received with consideration and kindness. The pope sat to him for his portrait; the cardinals Barberini and Rospigliosi; the sculptors Bernini and Algardi; the painters Nicolas Poussin, Pietro da Cortona, Claude and Matteo Prete were his friends and associates. Upon his return to Madrid, Velasquez was appointed aposentador-major, with a yearly salary of three thousand ducats, and a key at his girdle to unlock every door in the palace. He superintended the ceremonies and festivals of the royal household; he arranged in the halls of the Alcazar the bronzes and marbles purchased in Italy; he also cast in bronze the models he brought from abroad, and he yet found time to paint his last great picture, “Las Meniñas,” or the “Maids of Honor,” which represents the royal family, with the artist, maids of honor, the dwarfs, and a sleeping hound. It is said that when the king saw the picture he declared but one thing was wanting, and with his own hand significantly painted the cross of Santiago upon the breast of the artist. When the courts of France and Spain met on the Isle of Pheasants for the betrothal of the Infanta Maria Teresa to Louis XIV., Velasquez superintended all the ceremonies and all the festivities. These were of surpassing splendor, for these two courts were at this time the most luxurious in Europe. Stirling says the fatigues of the life of Velasquez shortened his days. He arrived at Madrid on his return, on June 26th, and from that time was gradually sinking. He died August 6th. He was buried with magnificent ceremonies in the Church of San Juan. His wife survived him but eight days; she was buried in the same grave.

Fig 64 Fig. 64.—Laughing Peasant. Velasquez.