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Buffoon with Books
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Buffoon with Books
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

One of the most distinguished components of Velázquez` oeuvre is his gallery of buffoons (or, as we would generally call them in English, jesters), dwarves, and other men of amusement who entertained the king of Spain and his court in idle moments. Although Velázquez was not the only artist who portrayed these entertainers, none other, either before or after, approached the subject s

The Baptism of Christ
Oil on canvas. 1597 - 1600
el Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
The Baptism of Christ
Oil on canvas. 1597 - 1600
el Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)

This evangelical episode is divided into two overlapping horizontal zones joined by the dove, which symbolizes the Holy Ghost. On the earthly plane, Christ, nude but for his loincloth, is framed by a red cloak, which is the liturgical color of sacrifice and martyrdom. On the right, Saint John the Baptist appears. He wears a camel skin and, next to him, there is an axe in a tree trunk, which allude

The Crucifixion
Oil on panel. 1509 - 1519
Flandes, Juan de
The Crucifixion
Oil on panel. 1509 - 1519
Flandes, Juan de

Documents at Palencia Cathedral cast light on this Crucifixion’s original location -the central row of the main altarpiece at that cathedral- and its author: Juan de Flandes (doc. 1496-1519). They also offer information about this panel between 1509, when that Flemish painter was commissioned to paint it, and 1944, when the Cathedral management sold it. Those same documents indicate that Palencia

Still Life with Artichokes, Flowers and Glass Vessels
Oil on canvas. 1627
Hamen y León, Juan Van Der
Still Life with Artichokes, Flowers and Glass Vessels
Oil on canvas. 1627
Hamen y León, Juan Van Der

This magnificent painting once belonged to Diego Mexía Felípez de Guzmán, Marquis of Leganés, in whose collection it was inventoried in 1655. This collection of nearly 1300 paintings comprised works by some of the most important European painters of the time, including a great number of Flemish still lifes and genre paintings. Van der Hamen was represented by nine still

The Buffoon Juan de Austria
Oil on canvas. 1632
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
The Buffoon Juan de Austria
Oil on canvas. 1632
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

The sitter`s elaborate dress, the baton of command he holds in his right hand and the sword on which his left hand rest all indicate that he is a military figure. The military context in further suggested by the naval battle depicted in the background and the weapons, ammunition and pieces of armour on the floor. For many years this portrait was in fact thought to depict a military officer until 1

Theodoric, King of the Visigoths
Oil on canvas. 1635
Castello, Félix
Theodoric, King of the Visigoths
Oil on canvas. 1635
Castello, Félix

This canvas was part of an unfinished series of Visigoth monarchs painted for the Buen Retiro Palace, which also included works by Vicente Carducho, Jusepe Leonardo, Antonio Pereda and Andrés López. That palace’s 1703 inventory lists only thirteen paintings of Gothic kings from this series commissioned after 1634, when the series of battle paintings for the same palace’s Hall of Real

The Haywain Triptych
Oil on panel. 1512 - 1515
Bosch, Hieronymus
The Haywain Triptych
Oil on panel. 1512 - 1515
Bosch, Hieronymus

Bosch thus shows how man, irrespective of his social class or place of origin, is so possessed by the desire to enjoy and acquire material possessions that he allows himself to be deceived or seduced by the Devil. Thus the artist proposes that we should renounce earthly goods and the delights of the senses in order to avoid eternal damnation. The painting offers an exemplum of a different type to

Weapons and Hunting Equipment
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1700
Victoria, Vicente
Weapons and Hunting Equipment
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1700
Victoria, Vicente

Although this painting bears a curious apocryphal signature in large letters at the lower left corner of the canvas, Pérez Sanchez (1983) attributed it to Victoria in 1983 on the basis of its Valencian provenance and that clergyman’s (he was a canon) reputation for making works of this sort. But, while other collections have similar pieces, this attribution raises doubts that may eventually

Saint Augustine vanquishing the Plague of Locusts
Oil on canvas. 1734
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
Saint Augustine vanquishing the Plague of Locusts
Oil on canvas. 1734
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto

In 1268 the inhabitants of Toledo (the townspeople on the left, the clergy in the centre and the nobility on the right) processed out of the city down to the river to implore Saint Augustine to help them combat the plague of locusts that was destroying the land. They fell on their knees before the miraculous apparition of the saint who, helped by some small angels, cast the voracious insects into

Juan Martínez Montañés
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1635
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Juan Martínez Montañés
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1635
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

A sculptor is shown modeling (possibly in wax) a head of Philip IV, making this one of the most important 17th-century Spanish portraits of an artist. Besides its impeccable quality, this work is a veritable manifesto on the image art makers wanted to project of themselves. The sculptor looks fixedly at the viewer, making his expression and face (where the Idea resides) more important that his man

Self-portrait
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1856
Esquivel y Rivas, Carlos María
Self-portrait
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1856
Esquivel y Rivas, Carlos María

Availing himself of trompe l’oeil, the painter portrays himself at the age of 26 in an oval-shaped painting placed on a table surrounded by various items alluding to the theory and practice of the arts: a palette with brushes, a plaster cast of a female torso, several scrolls, an inkwell, books... Particularly noteworthy, because it is open, is the Treatise on Pictorial Anatomy –whose manuscript i

Self-portrait
Oil on canvas. 1895
Pinazo Camarlench, Ignacio
Self-portrait
Oil on canvas. 1895
Pinazo Camarlench, Ignacio

Obsessed by his own image, Pinazo made many self-portraits. Here, the intense light streaming in from the left outlines his face with a marked chiaroscuro, heightened by the shadow cast by the hat. The use of a range of browns, and the highly naturalistic treatment of light reveal the influence of the masters of the Spanish Golden Age.

The Wine of Saint Martin's Day
Glue-size on twill / twill weave canvas. 1566 - 1567
Bruegel The Elder, Pieter
The Wine of Saint Martin's Day
Glue-size on twill / twill weave canvas. 1566 - 1567
Bruegel The Elder, Pieter

Practically unknown until now, the present canvas has only been mentioned and reproduced in an article by Matías Díaz Padrón, former curator at the Prado, that was published in Archivo Español de Arte in 1980. The author, who had not seen the painting at first hand, attributed it to Pieter Brueghel the Younger.The canvas depicts the Saint Martin`s Day wine festival. The

The Virgin of the Rosary
Oil on canvas. 1650 - 1655
Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban
The Virgin of the Rosary
Oil on canvas. 1650 - 1655
Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban

In 1836, the English critic John Ruskin lavished praise on Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s technique and identified the uniqueness of his approach: It is true that his Virgins are never such goddess-mothers as those of Correggio or Raphael, but they are never vulgar: they are mortal, but into their mortal features is cast such a light of holy loveliness, such a beauty of sweet soul, such an unf

Boys on the Beach
Oil on canvas. 1909
Sorolla y Bastida, Joaquín
Boys on the Beach
Oil on canvas. 1909
Sorolla y Bastida, Joaquín

The series of paintings featuring the ‘children in the water’ motif culminates in this work, in which nude boys play a greater part in the composition than in other pictures by Sorolla. While it is signed in 1910 and this chronology has been followed by almost everyone, the artist must have painted it in the summer of 1909, as the image was already reproduced in a book by Rafael Doménech th

The Agony in the Garden
Oil on panel. Ca. 1545
Morales, Luis de
The Agony in the Garden
Oil on panel. Ca. 1545
Morales, Luis de

Christ’s prayer on the Mount of Olives is the gospel episode that precedes his arrest and the beginning of his Passion and death on the cross. After the last supper with his disciples, Jesus withdraws with three of them, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, to the nearby garden of Gethsemane. According to St Luke’s Gospel, he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled

The Three Graces
Oil on oak panel. 1630 - 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Three Graces
Oil on oak panel. 1630 - 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul

The Graces were minor deities but in this splendid work Peter Paul Rubens devotes his best effort to them. The three goddesses embrace each other forming a circle. The positioning of their feet suggests movement; they seem to dance gently. The setting is as luscious as the nude bodies of the goddesses. A field illuminated by sunlight filtered through dense trees stretches to a distant blue. The sh

Self-portrait of the Artist in his Studio
Oil on canvas. 1777
Paret y Alcázar, Luis
Self-portrait of the Artist in his Studio
Oil on canvas. 1777
Paret y Alcázar, Luis

The family of this celebrated Madrid artist was originally French, and his own aesthetic roots lie outside Spain. In this self-portrait we see him sitting in a chair with cabriole legs, dressed in sumptuous elegance. He is wearing clothes similar to those worn by the majos of Madrid (those somewhat bohemian dandies-with-attitude of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century), but more refine

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