Velasquez and his Rivals.
Thanks to the wily machinations of Olivares, the Spanish Foreign Minister, Velasquez made headway at the Spanish court. Olivares’s Sevillian connections didn’t do any harm either as Velasquez had made a name for himself in genre scenes of that city. He also produced early high quality portraits, but still found it difficult to break through at court. Apart from the convoluted bureaucracy standing between him and the King, there was the problem that Philip IV already had 5 painters on the royal payroll: Santiago Morán the Elder (pintor de cámara); Vincente Carducho; Eugenio Cajés; and Bartolomé González (all pintores del rey, or painters to the King). There was the remaining pintor del rey, the enigmatic Francisco Lopez who probably aligned himself with Velasquez’s foes because he had professional and personal ties with these artists. Despite these obstacles, with the help of Olivares, Velasquez broke through at court. His life changed dramatically for the better when he was put on salary by the royal household and given the accolade of the only court painter allowed to paint Philip IV from life. Naturally, the young painter’s rise occasioned jealousy and political factionalism, not least because his employment arrangements were superior to the others. Unlike the others, Velasquez was given his own studio on the main floor of the King’s chief residence- the Alcázar of Madrid. Usually these rivalries would smoulder in the background, but on occasion they would flare up in the context of some competition orchestrated by the King, like the one of 1627 on the subject of the Moors expelled from Spain.
|Diego Velasquez, The Adoration of the Magi, 1619, Oil on canvas, 203 x 125 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid|
|J. B. Maino, Adoration of the Kings, 1612, Oil on canvas, 315 x 174 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid|
|Eugenio Cajes, The Adoration of the Magi, 1620s, Oil on canvas, 183 x 186,5 cm, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest|
|Vicente Carducho, The Vision of St Anthony of Padua, 1631, Oil on canvas, 227 x 170 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg|
The Layout of the Pictures at Alcázar
The competition between Velasquez and his rivals took place in a chamber newly created by Gómez de Mora. This was a large two-story chamber above the main entrance to the Alcázar. This “New Room” soon became a space for showing masterpieces from Philip IV’s collections. A number of pictures- such as a portrait of Philip III by Gonzales- have been lost. This would have been linked with the “Old Regime”, but Velasquez was asked to paint pictures for the new order. He was asked to painting an Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV to complement Titian’s Charles I at the Battle of Mühlberg. Velasquez won the contest with his Philip II and the Expulsion of the Moriscoes from Spain, lost. Gómez de Mora also created a “South Gallery” when he erected a screen across the southern façade of the palace. To fill his galleries, Philip drew on artists from abroad. So the King’s ambassador went to Rome to commission four paintings: Abduction of Helen (Reni); Hercules and Omphale (Artemisia Gentileschi); Sacrifice of Isaac and Solomon and Sheba (Domenichino). Apart from Reni who threw a tantrum and took his picture back to Bologna, these pictures were installed in the “New Room” in the Alcázar. To augment these, Philip IV also commissioned art from the Spanish Netherlands. We know from the eye witness account of Poussin’s patron, Cassiano dal Pozzo that the Ulysses Discovers Achilles amongst the Daughters of Lycomedes which is thought by some to be a collaboration between Rubens and Van Dyck, hung in this gallery also. Rubens had offered this picture for sale to Sir Dudley Carleton, in 1618.
|Juan Gomez de Mora, Plan of the Main Floor of the Alcazar of Madrid in 1626, Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica|
|Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, Ulysses Discovers Achilles Among the Daughters of Lycomedes, oil on canvas, 248.5 cm x 269.5 cm, Prado, Madrid|
Domenichino, The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1627-28, Oil on canvas, 147 x 140 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid
|Guido Reni, The Rape of Helena, 1626-29, Oil on canvas, 253 x 265 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris|
An Interlude: Velasquez’s Pigments & Technique
Velasquez mainly painted on linen canvas, though occasionally he used a canvas made from hemp. All were usually of a regular weave. He tended to use oil as a binder. For his pigments, Velasquez conformed to those commonly used by other 17th century painters. Velasquez used three principle BLUE pigments: azurite (drapery in Vulcan, Breda); blue verditer; ultramarine (mixed with red lake to create purple in Coronation). Sometimes the inexpensive pigment smalt was used (blue for skies of Vulcan). GREEN underwent substantial changes in the 17th century. Velasquez mixed different colours to obtain green. For instance, in Vulcan, green consists of azurite, yellow lake, and possibly some yellow ochre. Malachite is rarely found in the 17th century, but the foliage in the foreground of Breda might be an example. EARTH COLOURS like brown, red and yellow ochres are quite common in 17th century painting. In the Breda, the trouser leg of Spinola are made up primarily of ochre, brown ochre and umber. The main RED pigments available to artists in this era (in addition to red ochre), vermilion, red lead and red lakes. Vermillion = “synthetic variety of cinnabar” (bar of metal in Vulcan); red lake found in most of Velasquez’s paintings (red sash in Breda, drapery in Coronation). In addition to yellow ochre, the other main YELLOW variant in Velasquez’s time was lead-tin yellow (Vulcan). BLACKS & BROWNS such as charcoal and bone black are found in most of Velasquez’s paintings. The main WHITE universally present in Velasquez’s works is lead-white. Little is known of how Velasquez began his paintings or drew in his compositions. It is thought that thin black or brown paint “to define forms over the ground.” A sketchy under-painting with little more than contours of figures was consistent throughout his career. He applied single layers of painting, modulated in tone and hue, with lighter and darker strokes brushed into the underpainting, sometimes before it was dry.
|Diego Velasquez, The Surrender of Breda (Las Lanzas), 1634-35, Oil on canvas, 307 x 367 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid|
|Diego Velasquez, The Coronation of the Virgin, 1645, Oil on canvas, 178 x 135 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid|
|Diego Velasquez, The Forge of Vulcan, 1630, Oil on canvas, 223 x 290 cm, Museo del Prado|
Alonso de Cárdenas,the English Sales and the Spanish Collections
While Velasquez was furthering his career at court and advancing towards the disintegration of form in his technique, his countryman, the Spanish ambassador, Alonso de Cardenas was lurking amongst the pictures on sale at Somerset House. Cárdenas had arrived in London in 1635 as “resident agent”, but had been made ambassador in 1640. Charles I dismissed him as “a silly, ignorant, odd fellow” though as Jonathan Brown has shown, Cárdenas was a shrewd operator, a man with an eye for the main chance where acquiring pictures for his monarch was concerned. Cárdenas had briefed Philip IV in 1645 that the Parliamentarians were intending to sell Charles I’s paintings to which the Spanish replied that his ambassador should find paintings “which might be originals by Titian, Veronese, or other old paintings of distinction.” Philip gave strict instructions that Cárdenas should not reveal the name of the purchaser. As Brown says, this arrangement was “unrealistic in the extreme, but does explain why Cárdenas never bought any pictures from Somerset House. Cárdenas funding came not from the King but the royal minister, Luis de Haro who was mentioned last week. Fortunately for Cárdenas, he did not have to compete with other major buyers during the commonwealth sale. Mazarin’s representative had been expelled in 1651; Leopold Wilhelm had Hamilton’s and Buckingham’s collection to keep him occupied; and Queen Christina of Sweden could have posed a threat, but she had looted the castle at Prague so she was satisfied with her art treasures. So with a clear field, Cárdenas attended Somerset House to inspect the goods and to draw up some kind of list of what he considered the most desirable pictures. As Brown ruefully observes, “it is a document certain to bring tears to the eyes of every English citizen who loves the art of painting.” This memorandum lists 60 works on show at Somerset House, Hampton Court, and St James’s. Paintings by Titian were especially desired by Cárdenas, though he was no fool when it came to knowing about art. For example, the painter’s Adlocution of the Marquis del Vasto “would have been worth £1000 if it were not worn in many parts.” But he was spot on because he judged Titian’s Christ at Emmaus and the Entombment (valued at £600 each) to be better paintings. Sadly, the painting that most excited the curiosity of Cardenas has been lost: a Giorgione showing Solomon worshipping the Idols. Cárdenas obviously took advantage of the dividend situation and managed to acquire art from these holders of impressive old masters. Amongst these were Tintoretto’s Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles, Correggio’s Education of Cupid, Palma Giovane’s David and Goliath and Conversion of St Paul, and portraits by Dürer. In the sanctuary of El Escorial, Velasquez had installed some of Charles’s pictures including Andrea del Sarto’s Madonna and Child with Saint Matthew and an Angel and Tintoretto’s Christ Washing the Feet of his Disciples The sacristy would have been visited by the English ambassador who was trying to return the pictures to London. Needless to say, he failed miserably!
Titian, Supper at Emmaus, c. 1530, Oil on canvas, 169 x 244 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
|Jacopo Tintoretto, Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples, c. 1547, Oil on canvas, 210 x 533 cm, Museo del Prado|
Titian, The Marchese del Vasto Addressing his Troops, 1539-41, Oil on canvas, 223 x 165 cm
|Correggio, The Education of Cupid, about. 1528, oil on canvas, 155 x 91.5 cm, National Gallery, London|
1) Diego Velásquez, Self-Portrait, c. 1645, Oil on canvas, 104 x 83 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
2) Diego Velásquez, Portrait of Don Gaspar de Guzman y Pimental, Count-Duke of Olivares, c. 1638, Oil on canvas, 67 x 55 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
3) Diego Velasquez, The Adoration of the Magi, 1619, Oil on canvas, 203 x 125 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
4) J. B. Maino, Adoration of the Kings, 1612, Oil on canvas, 315 x 174 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
5) Eugenio Cajes, The Adoration of the Magi, 1620s, Oil on canvas, 183 x 186,5 cm, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest.
6) Vicente Carducho, The Vision of St Anthony of Padua, 1631, Oil on canvas, 227 x 170 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
7) Juan van der Hamen, Offering to Flora, 1627, Oil on canvas, 216 x 140 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
8) Juan van der Hamen, Still Life with Flowers and a Dog, c. 1625-30, Oil on canvas, 228 x 95 cm
9) Museo del Prado, Madrid.
10) Diego Velasquez, Portrait of Cardinal Gaspar Borja y Velasco, oil on canvas, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.
11) Bartolomeo González, Queen Margarita of Austria, 1609, Oil on canvas, 116 x 100 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid
12) Juan Gomez de Mora, Plan of the Main Floor of the Alcazar of Madrid in 1626, Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica.
13) J.B. M. Mazo, The Artist's Family, 1659-60, Oil on canvas, 150 x 172 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
14) Guido Reni, The Rape of Helena, 1626-29, Oil on canvas, 253 x 265 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
15) Tintoretto, Battle between Turks and Christians, 1588-89, Oil on canvas, 189 x 307 cm
16) Museo del Prado.
17) Domenichino, The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1627-28, Oil on canvas, 147 x 140 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
18) Rubens, Hercules and Omphale, about 1606, oil on canvas, 178 x 216 cm, Museé du Louvre.
19) Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, Ulysses Discovers Achilles Among the Daughters of Lycomedes, oil on canvas, 248.5 cm x 269.5 cm, Prado, Madrid.
20) Diego Velasquez, The Triumph of Bacchus (Los Borrachos, The Topers), c. 1629, Oil on canvas, 165 x 225 cm, Museo del Prado.
21) Jusepe de Ribera, Drunken Silenus, about 1630, oil on canvas, 181 x 229 cm, Capodimonte, Naples.
22) El Greco, Portrait of a Doctor, 1582-85, oil on canvas, 96 x 82.3 cm, Prado, Madrid.
23) David Teniers the Younger, The Bivouac, 1640-50, oil on panel, 63 x 89 cm, Prado, Madrid.
24) Peter Paul Rubens, Diana and Callisto, c. 1639, Oil on canvas, 202 x 323 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
25) Jan Bruegel the Elder, Wedding Banquet, Oil on canvas, 84 x 126 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
26) Diego Velasquez, The Forge of Vulcan, 1630, Oil on canvas, 223 x 290 cm, Museo del Prado.
27) Diego Velasquez, The Surrender of Breda (Las Lanzas), 1634-35, Oil on canvas, 307 x 367 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
28) Titian, The Entombment, 1559, Oil on canvas, 137 x 175 cm, Prado, Madrid.
29) Diego Velasquez, The Coronation of the Virgin, 1645, Oil on canvas, 178 x 135 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
30) Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Ambrogio Spinola, 1625-28, Oil on oak, 117 x 85 cm, Národní Galerie, Prague.
31) Titian, The Marchese del Vasto Addressing his Troops, 1539-41, Oil on canvas, 223 x 165 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
33) Titian, Supper at Emmaus, c. 1530, Oil on canvas, 169 x 244 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
34) Correggio, The Education of Cupid, about. 1528, oil on canvas, 155 x 91.5 cm, National Gallery, London.
35) Albrecht Durer, Portrait of a Man with Baret and Scroll, 1521, Oil on oak, 50 x 36 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
36) Jacopo Tintoretto, Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples, c. 1547, Oil on canvas, 210 x 533 cm, Museo del Prado.
 For an overview of Velasquez’s relationships with the other royal painters, Steven N. Orso, Velasquez, Los Borrachos, and Painting at the Court of Philip IV (Cambridge, 1993), 40f.
 The “symbolic date of the beginning of the ‘Golden Age’ of Spanish painting,” Arrikha, “Velasquez”, 47.
 Information about Velasquez’s technique is taken from Gridley McKim Smith, Greta Andersen- Bergdoll and Richard Newman’s Examining Velasquez, (Yale, 1988).
 A statistical survey of pigments was conducted by Hermann Kühn for the Doerner Institute in Munich. As the authors of Examining Velasquez (82-83) state: “The majority of paintings included in Kühn’s analyses are Northern European; there is comparatively little published information on the materials favoured by Spanish or Italian artists in the same period. On the basis of Kühn’s analysis, it does not seem that the pigments that Velasquez used in his paintings differ much from those most commonly encountered in paintings by other European artists working at the same general time.”
 An interesting technical note. In 17th century Holland, there were commercially available two types of lead-white: “lootwit” with 25% of chalk; and “schulpwit”, a more expensive variety, pure lead-white. “Velasquez’s samples do not contain nearly the amount of calchite that Dutch “lootwit” does. (Examining Velasquez, 87).
 There were 226 works listed by Stirling-Maxwell (1848) and attributed to Velásquez. The amount was “gradually reduced, attaining a rough 125 works” listed by 1979. This information takenfrom Avigdor Arrikha’s “Velásquez: Pintor Real” in On Depiction: Selected Writings on Art (London, 1991), 44-60, 46.
 Maino was named by Philip III as the future drawing master of Philip IV. Described as a student of El Greco and “a disciple of Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni” he joined the Dominicans in 1613 and thereafter painted infrequently.
 Janis Tomlinson: “The Carducho brothers have identified with a “reformed Mannerist” style, described as combining the drawing and compositional sense of Florentine painting with the blended contours ( or sfumato) of the Lombard school and the colourism of Venetian painters.” Painting in Spain: El Greco to Goya, (Everyman 1997), 85.
 From the Spanish upper-class, and though famous for his austere compositions, he hankered after recognition as a history painter- which he didn’t receive. Also a portrait painter which would have put him in conflict with Velasquez’s ambitions. It is known that Velasquez did a portrait of Cardinal Francesco Barberini which “displeased the Cardinal” (Orso). So Cassiano recommended van der Hamen “a native Spaniard of Madrid, who obtained excellent results in the painting of portraits, of flowers, and of fruit.” Sadly neither painting of the Cardinal has survived.
 This 1666 inventory of the North Gallery in the Alcazar is reproduced in Orso’s Velasquez, Los Borrachos, Appendix D. In 1666, 58 paintings and 19 pieces of sculpture and furniture were inventoried. The numbering is Orso’s own which I have used here. Sebastian de Herrera Barnuevo, master-in-chief of the royal works appraised the sculptures and furnishings; the paintings were appraised by Mazo, pintor de camara and Velasquez’s son-in-law. For Mazo’s relationship to his famous father-in- law, see the article on my blog- link.
 Despite being happy to be rewarded by Philip IV, “he (Reni) did not put a price on it”, but he instructed Cardinal Spada not to release the picture until payment was received. Eventually Reni’s financial manipulations failed with the King’s ambassador taking a highhanded attitude to Reni which led to the picture being sent back to Bologna with the declaration by the artist “that it was no longer for sale.” There is also a copy in the Galleria Spada, Rome. Though Reni ordered one of his pupils, Giacinto Campana to paint it (to be retouched by Reni), it is likely that Reni executed the copy himself. Spear, The Divine Guido, 214, 217-218.
 Shown in lieu of Artemesia’s painting which is lost along with the Domenichino Solomon and Sheba. According to Spear, the Domenichino Solomon and Sheba and Artemisia’s Hercules and Omphale were “part of a group of similar sized canvases for the Salon Nuevo, or Hall of Mirrors, of the Alcázar in Madrid, whose iconographic unity was stories of women.” Orazio and Artemesia Gentileschi, (Met, New York, 2002), 341.
 First inventoried in 1636, in the “Room in which His Majesty Sleeps in the Summer Apartments”, (Orso, App B) no. 16: “Another canvas measuring almost three varas in length, with a gilded and black frame, in which is Bacchus seated on a cask, crowning a drunkard. There are other figures who accompany him on his knees, another behind with a bowl in his hand, and another who is going to take off or put on his hat. It is by the hand of Diego Velasquez.” And in the Inventory of North Gallery, 1666 no. 4: “Another painting measuring two and one-half varas in length and one and one-half in height, with its black frame, a history painting of Bacchus crowning his cofrades, by the hand of Diego Velasquez, [appraised] at three hundred silver ducats.
 Thought to have been in the collection of Gaspar Roomer, a Flemish merchant in Naples. See Painting in Naples: Caravaggio to Giordano, (London, 1982), no. 120. The realism has encouraged connections to be made between Ribera and Velasquez, but the uncompromising realism belies the fact that Ribera may have worked from a Hellenistic relief “or a contemporary print of an ancient monument” as the curators said in 1982. It is also worth mentioning that Velasquez worked from a Flemish engraving of Bacchus. As for the “influence” of Ribera on Velasquez, there was indeed a “Fable of Bacchus”, now known through three fragments in Philip IV’s apartments. Its subject was never really known, but Orso thought it could be “Bacchus in Iberia”, which had political associations as well as the usual mythological themes. This is all discussed in the author’s Velasquez, Los Borrachos, and Painting at the Court of Philip IV, 109 f.
 According to López-Rey, the Vulcan was inventoried in the Royal Palace in 1716 with a width of 3 varas, or about 251 cm. It was given a number, 570, visible on the bottom left of the canvas. Subsequent inventories of 1772 and 1794, the width is given at an increased 3 ½ varas (292 cm) close to the picture’s current total width of 290 cm. As the authors of Examining Velasquez state, LR concluded that strips were added between 1716 and 1772- but the reason for these alterations remains a complete mystery.
 A drawing in the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, shows a different pose for Spinola. The figure on the far right of the picture may be a self-portrait.
 From the Titian catalogue (London, NG, 2003, no. 31, David Jaffe’s entry): “Sent to Philip II in 1559 together with the more carefully modelled Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon, this painting was a replacement for a version lost in transit two years earlier. The composition is likely, therefore, to have been resolved in the earlier version (which was perhaps preserved in a tracing), enabling Titian to focus on the handling…” There is a later version in the Prado, usually dated about 1572.
 Little discussed in the Velasquez literature, largely because of its derivative composition and iconography, but this Queen of Heaven painted for the Queen of Spain is an important essay on colour.
 Conceived along the lines of a classical adlocutio; but the presence of the boy carrying the helmet makes it more personal as it is his son Francesco Ferrante.
 After Velásquez pronounced this non-autograph, it was snapped up by Luis de Haro who perceptively wrote “but you should moderate this unpleasantness with [the knowledge] that, if they do not find it appropriate for the private quarters of His Majesty, they will hang it in mine with the good faith one ought to have, according to the knowledge of the painters over there (in London). Cited in Brown, Kings and Connoisseurs, 97. Brown observes it seems fitting in view of these remarks that the picture hangs in London. Correggio’s painting was subsequently confiscated by Murat, then it went to Naples in 1808, then to Vienna with Caroline Bonaparte, and then to the Marquess of Londonderry, and finally to the National Gallery in 1834. NG link. Arrikha seems to concur with Velasquez’s original judgement. “The painting, once in the Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua collection, and bought by Charles I of England in 1628, was cut down on all four sides before 1639, when it was recorded at Whitehall as having measurements almost identical with its present ones. Velásquez’s acute eye probably saw that there was something not quite right about it, an observation really rare for the period.” Arrikha, “Velásquez”, 52.
 Valued at £300 and acquired for £325 by Cardenas.