Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cult of Velázquez

Number of mentions published in books
via N-Gram viewer—Velazquez in blue)
In the late 1880s, Velazquez surpassed Rembrandt and Holbein in popularity. 

Diego Velázquez, Pope Innocent X, 1650
Velázquez held a respected position among many academic painters, especially Carolus-Duran, who encouraged his students to travel to Spain to see the originals and to make copies from them. 

The reverence for the Spanish master was so great that a "cult of Velázquez" emerged in 19th century Paris, where some artists mystically appealed to his ghost to guide their hand.  

The key to Velázquez, Carolus-Duran said, was strict simplicity of tone and careful attention to half tones, the planes that transition the form from light into shadow. 

A book from the period called "The Art of Velázquez" by R.A.M. Stevenson, student of Carolus-Duran, can be downloaded for free at  


Unknown said...

How can I join this cult? I wouldn't mind his ghost to guide my hand. :)

Rich said...

Is he still around to draw our hand?-)

Whenever Velázquez is mentioned, I remember Van Gogh.
Because in one of his letters he admired "Velázquez grey tones".

Since then I find myself looking out for them.

Gavin said...

Ah drat, I was in Paris a fortnight ago, pottering around D'Orsay. I've always wanted to venture inside the Grand Palais and didn't know Velaquez was making an appearance. I missed something there. :(

D'Orsay never disappoints though, and whilst off topic, they had a huge glass conservation room working on the restoration of Courbet's 'Studio of the artist' painting. I've seen it in reproduction, and never appreciated the grandiose size - roughly six metres long!

I didn't get to see any Velaquez, but there were some paintings by Carolus-Duran.