Velasquez, Don Diego Velasquez De Silva

, an eminent Spanish history and portrait painter, was born at Seville in 1594, and was at first the pupil of Francis Herrera, and afterwards of Pacheco, in whose school his progress was remarkable, and he soon gave manifest proofs of his abilities. He studied diligently alter nature, and painted birds, beasts, fishes, ana landscapes) as they occurred, and designed them with such truth and exactness, that his performances rose into high esteem. His most favourite subjects, at first, were taverns, kitchens, conversations, and persons feasting; and those he executed with a bold pencil, and uncommon tints of colour, in a style peculiar to himself. But at length the sight of some pictures of the Italian masters inspired Velasquez with nobler ideas; and being particularly charmed with the colouring of Caravaggio, he made him his model, and his success in that" style answered his most sanguine expectations.

Having spent five years under I ajheco, he- went to Madrid, where he received great encouragement, and had an opportunity of improving himself still more by viewing the paintings in that city. There also he procured the patronage of the duke d’Olivarez, favourite of Philip IV.; and the portrait which he painted of that grandee obtained him, | the royal favour, in consequence of which he was appointed principal painter to the king of Spain, with an honourable pension, and an apartment in the palace. While in that station, Rubens arrived in Spain; and having visited Velasqnez, and considered his works, recommended it to him to spend some time in Italy. Velasquez, convinced of the sincerity and probity of Rubens, as well as of his judgment, followed his advice, and travelled to Venice and Rome: at the former he copied the works of Titian, Tintoretto, and P. Veronese; and at the latter studied the works of Raphael, Buonaroti, and the Caracci’s; by which means he acquired such an improvement of taste, correctness, composition, and colouring, as placed him at the head of his profession.

At his return to Spain, he was received with every mark of esteem by the king, and applause by the public; and having finished a noble design of the Crucifixion for the convent of St. Placidia, the whole court had an incontestable evidence of his merit, and the improvement he had obtained, by studying the finest productions of art and genius in Italy. As the king had determined to procure the best collection possible of antique statues, and the works of the greatest masters of Italy, he commissioned Velasquez to purchase the most curious, and also to copy such celebrated paintings as he found unpurchaseable. During that progress, he painted the portrait of Innocent X. and most of the cardinals and princes at Rome; and was treated with the utmost distinction and honour, as long as he continued in that city. He had the happiness to enrich his own country with many admirable curiosities of ancient and modern artists; and adorned it also with a number of his own works, in portrait and history. The compositions of Velasquez were remarkable for strong expression, a freedom of pencil, a spirited touch, and an admirable tone of colour. The most capital performance of this eminent master, is the historical representation of the expulsion of the Moors by Philip III., which is in the grand saloon at Madrid. Velasquez died at Madrid in 1600, and was interred with great magnificence. 1

1 Argenville, vol. II. Pilkington. But a longer account in Cumberland’s Anecdotes of Painters in Spain.