Diego Velázquez. National Gallery, Londres

From the end of the 1630s, Velázquez produced several mythological works that are among the most important and original of his day and enabled him to establish a fruitful dialogue with pictorial tradition. These paintings mark the culmination of his tendency to emphasise the values associated with colour as opposed to drawing and to make colour his main vehicle of expression. In this respect he continued the tradition of Titian and Rubens, many of whose works could be found in the Royal Collections. These artists became two of the main reference points for the development of his style.Mythology led Velázquez to address the nude, a theme rich in connotations. It is the form which western tradition has linked most closely to the idea of art, that which best expresses the values of colour and, at the same time, the place where the boundaries of art and decency converge. In the Rokeby Venus, Velázquez found an alternative to the nudes of Titian and Rubens, while demonstrating his unique status in relation to his Spanish colleagues, as his position at court freed him from the moral restraints that fettered the others. In Mars he employed a warm, sumptuous range of colours, modelling the forms with light and colour and erasing the limits between figure and setting, seeking to convey a sensation of life and transitoriness, as in Mercury and Argus. At the same time, he preserved his taste for narrative paradox and instead of depicting the god of war with heroic features, he painted him tired and melancholic.

 
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