Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), considered by many to be the greatest of Spain's great painters, spent his crucial formative years in Seville, learning his craft and producing many early masterpieces. When he departed from his native city as a young man of 24, Velázquez's accomplishments were already impressive: he left to assume the position of Court Painter to Philip IV of Spain in Madrid. In this beautifully illustrated book, an international team of art scholars explores the importance of Seville for Velázquez. Discussions range across many topics, including Velázquez's education and training, Sevillian culture and Catholic theology, picaresque literature, and Velázquez's subject matter—portraiture, sacred subjects, and the bodegones (kitchen and tavern scenes with prominent still life) in which Velázquez developed his distinctive naturalistic style.
The Seville of Velázquez's youth was the chief Spanish port of trade with the New World and a major religious center that witnessed the passionate controversy over the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, a subject depicted in an early Velázquez painting. Other surviving paintings from the artist's Sevillian years include his first dated painting, Old Woman Cooking Eggs (1618), and his famous masterpiece Water-seller of Seville.
This book serves as the catalogue for a major exhibition on Velázquez's early work to be held at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, August 8 through October 20, 1996. The exhibit also includes a selection of influential works by Velázquez's important contemporaries, such as the sculptor Montañes and painters Alonso Cano and Ribalta.