Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 3 – Diego Velazquez: In the mid-17th century, Madrid experienced its Golden Age. The Royal Alcazar of Madrid, a legacy of the Muslim sovereignty that had dominated the region for a long time, became the residence of the royal family and the centre of the Spanish court. Diego Velasquez’ canvas plunges us into the practices and traditions of the Hapsburgs of Spain. But more importantly, the work is a recursive reflection of reality: between model, viewer and artist, we no longer know who is looking at who.
This series explores history of art in a totally new way. The painting comes to life, as animation overrides the limits of the frame, taking us to the heart of the canvass and plunging us into its era and history. This series of 10 half-hour programs shows how a painted image echos the spirit of its time and relates to a particular historic event. It reveals the poetic, sociological and political potential of the picture by penetrating inside the painting and examine the underlining details, thanks to work of computer graphics which livens up characters, objects and sets.
Each film tells a fascinating story of a creator and the painting process. The great works of the past portray abundant testimonies, and are imbued with secrets and are teeming with mysteries. Beneath the surface of the painting, details awaken, to recount the spirit of the times and the vagaries of History, such as wars, revolutions, economic transformation, scientific discovery, beliefs and schools of thought.
Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 3 – Diego Velazquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV of Spain and Portugal, and of the Spanish Golden Age. He was an individualistic artist of the Baroque period (c. 1600–1750). He began to paint in a precise tenebrist style, later developing a freer manner characterized by bold brushwork. In addition to numerous renditions of scenes of historical and cultural significance, he painted scores of portraits of the Spanish royal family and commoners, culminating in his masterpiece Las Meninas (1656).
Velázquez’s paintings became a model for 19th-century realist and impressionist painters. In the 20th century, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Francis Bacon paid tribute to Velázquez by re-interpreting some of his most iconic images.
Most of his work entered the Spanish royal collection, and by far the best collection is in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, though some portraits were sent abroad as diplomatic gifts, especially to the Austrian Habsburgs.