TF1 and Histoire partner the major new Velázquez exhibition
Velázquez, born in Seville in 1599, is one of the most important figures in the history of art, all styles and periods combined. He was the leader of the Spanish school and official artist to King Philip IV at a time when Spain dominated the world. While a contemporary of Van Dyck, Bernini and Zurbarán, his art gave him a timelessness rivalled only by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, Caravaggio and Rembrandt
Trained at a young age in the workshop of Francisco Pacheco, an influential painter and man of letters in the Andalusian capital, Velázquez rapidly made a name for himself. Encouraged by his master, who later became his father-in-law, he decided to try his luck at the court in Madrid. After an initial unsuccessful attempt, he was finally named painter to the king in 1623, marking the beginning of the artistic and social rise that would bring him the greatest responsibilities at the palace and close contact with the king.
Velázquez’s life was marked by two important trips to Italy, the first around 1630 and the second around 1650, and by the successive births and deaths of the heirs to the throne. He was a master of portraiture, a genre he revolutionised, but also excelled at landscape and history painting, and, in his youth, genre scenes and still lifes.
Referred to by Manet as the “painter of painters”, Velázquez stands as one of the world’s most famous and admired artists, but his genius has yet to be celebrated by a one-man exhibition in France.
Organising a comprehensive retrospective of his art is a difficult task given the relative rarity of his works (at a little over 100) and their understandable concentration at the Prado in Madrid. But that challenge has now been successfully met by the Louvre and the Grand Palais, having joined forces together with the Kunsthistorishes Museum in Vienne and also receiving generous support of the Prado. Their efforts have secured some outstanding loans, including that of the Forge of Vulcan from the Prado and Joseph’s Tunic from the Escorial, along with absolute masterpieces such as the Rokeby Venus (National Gallery, London) and the Portrait of Pope Innocent X (Doria Pamphilj, Rome) so admired by Francis Bacon – both of them universal icons in the history of art.
The exhibition presents a complete panorama of the work of Diego Velázquez, from his beginnings in Seville through to his final years, and the influence he had on his contemporaries. It also addresses the main recent questions and findings concerning the artist, exhibiting recently discovered works, some of them making their first public appearance, including The Education of the Virgin (Yale Art Gallery, New Haven) and Portrait of the Inquisitor Sebastian de Huerta (private collection).
25 March – 13 July 2015
Entrance: Square Jean Perrin