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Diego Velazquez 1599 - 1658

1599 – Born in Seville in family of minor nobility. Studies Latin, literature, philosophy in school – draws in his exercise books.

1611 – enters studio of Franchesco Pachecho, mediocre but highly cultivated Sevillan painter.

1617 – Registers in guild of Saint Luke, sets up his own workshop.

1618 – Marries Pachecho’s daughter Joanna de Miranda (16). They will have 2 daughters of whom only one will survive.

1622 First visit to Madrid to visit royal collections in Escorial. Paints portrait of poet Don Luis de Gongora y Argote which will get him noticed.  Early admirer Don Juan Fonseca canon of Madrid cathedral introduces him to court circles.

1623 or 1624 – First portrait of young King Philip IV. Replaces recently deceased first painter to the king Villadrando. Patronized by powerful minister Count Duke Olivares. Receives 20 ducats monthly salary plus extra payment for commissions.

1625– Resounding success of his first (now lost) equestrian portrait of the King.

1629 – Asks permission of King to visit Italy. Given funds and letters of introduction arrives in Genoa from Barcelona in September. Travels in the company of great Italian general in the service of Spain, Ambrosio Spinola victor of the siege of Breda.

Travels to Rome via Venice and Ferarra. In Rome he is patronized by Cardinal Francesco Barberini former papal nuncio in Madrid and nephew of Pope Urban VII.

Copies Michelangelo and Raphael in the Vatican.

1630 – Leaves for Naples where he paints portrait of Infanta Maria on her way to meet her new husband Ferdinand III future German Emperor. Meets great local Spanish painter Jusepe Ribera.

1631 – Returns to Madrid. Commissioned to do decorations for new royal palace, Buen Retiro: paints one of 12 battle pictures, “The Surrender of Breda” and equestrian portraits of King, Queen Isabella and Prince Balthazar Carlos.

1636 – Appointed “Gentleman of the Wardrobe without duties”.

1638 – New royal project for enlarging hunting residence of Torre della Parada at El Pardo leads to commissions of royal figures in hunting costume with dogs, ancient philosophers and the court clowns and dwarfs. Installs mythological pictures executed after original designs by Rubens in new palace.

1643 – Promoted to “Gentleman of the Royal Bedchamber and Superintendent of the Works of the Palace.” After years of successive military defeats and financial decline Count Duke Olivares is finally exiled.

1648 – Second trip to Italy with mission of purchasing works by the great masters of the 16th century for the refurbishment of the old royal palace in Madrid.

1649 – Arrives in Venice on his way to Trent with official delegation to meet new Queen young Austrian princess Marianna future second wife of widowed Philip IV. In Venice purchases works by Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto. Visits Modena, Bologna and Parma where he unsuccessfully tries to purchase works by Correggio. In Rome orders 32 casts after the antique, meets Cortona, Rosa and Bernini. 

1650 – Paints portrait of Pope Innocent X which is publicly shown in Pantheon.

1652 – Finally returns to Spain after repeated summons from the King. Raised to position of palace Chamberlain responsible for all palace infrastructure and festivities. Continues painting portraits of royal family including the celebrated “Meninas” in1656.

1658 – Awarded supreme Spanish honour, the medal of Santiago, which he adds to his self portrait in the “Meninas”.  Accompanies princess Maria Teresa to the French border where she is to marry the young Louis XIV of France, he is in charge of travel arrangements.  Dies shortly after his return to Madrid of fever at the age of 61. His wife dies 8 days later. 

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