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The Spanish School

The Art Of Painting - The Spanish School - 1, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
THESE considerations naturally lead us on to Velazquez, of all masters the least mannered, in some aspects nearer to nature in his interpretations than any other. In every sense a realist, he stated the large facts with the broadest touch, and boiled them down to their utmost simplicity. This breadth of view was the goal he reached only in his mature years ; and in following his development, which is fairly illustrated by the small collection of his works in these galleries, we shall see that he shed one by one the shackles that constrained his earlier manner—constraints, however, which prepared his hand and his mind to understand and to execute, with an unerring draughtsmanship and a just appreciation of values, the masterly painting which places him high up in the first rank of the masters. " Christ in the House of Martha " is an early example of his naive composition and harsh and heavy treatment ; only in the still life do we realise his promise.
VELAZQUEZ, PHILIP IV, KING OF SPAIN. National Gallery. This exquisite portrait and the Rokeby Venus appear to show the influence of Rubens on Velazquez.
National Gallery
This exquisite portrait and the Rokeby Venus appear to show the influence of Rubens on Velazquez.

"Christ at the Column" is little more than a grisaille on a dark canvas with a light base. Breadth there is in it, but none of the light of his riper efforts.
An earlier work than this, I imagine, is the full length of Philip IV, which to an extent recalls the less developed painting of the sixteenth century, when the prejudice against positive shadows in the flesh prevailed. I turn to this, for, hanging as it does as a pendant to the "Admiral PulidoPareja" we are able to compare his early with his fully matured outlook and accomplishment—the flatness and thinness of the Philip with the roundness and solidity of the other.

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