Art and parks in the company of Velazquez

Or Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez as he was known to his family, friends and at the court of King Phillip IV of Spain. But who was the man, and why is he the perfect guide for our Madrid, Art Walk and Retiro Experience?

Velázquez was born in Seville in 1599, where it quickly became clear that he was a gifted painter, and in 1622 he made his way to Madrid. He produced a portrait of King Phillip IV in just one day — a day which would change his life forever. From that day on, no other artist would ever paint the King’s portrait again, and all existing portraits of the monarch were withdrawn from circulation. Velázquez was appointed court painter on the spot!

Velázquez knew Madrid better than most. The Retiro Park was commissioned by King Phillip IV and as court painter and favourite of the King, Velazquez had the rare privilege of being allowed to use it with his family. Such was his status at court, that he could paint himself alongside the Royal Family in the masterpiece known as The Meninas, created in 1656 and now exhibited in the Prado Museum. Present day art critics describe this work as “the theology of painting” or “the philosophy of art”.

Velazquez died in 1660, shortly after returning to Madrid from the wedding between Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain and King Louis XIV of France, a union he was very much against. While some say it was exhaustion, there are many others who claim he was so deeply frustrated by the royal nuptials that he died of a heavy heart.

Described as the “painter of painters” by French impressionist Éduoard Manet and a clear inspiration to fellow Spaniards, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, we can think of no better person to act as your guide for our Madrid Art Walk and Retiro experience.

Join us. Join Velázquez. In Madrid. We are waiting for you here!

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