Inventory number
P01172
Author
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Title
The Surrender of Breda or The Lances
Chronology
Ca. 1635
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimensions
307 cm x 367 cm
School
Spanish
Theme
Military
On display
Yes
Provenance
Royal Collection (Royal Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1701, [n. 244]; New Royal Palace, “antecámara de la serenísima infanta”, 1772, n. 244; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “pieza de vestir”, 1794, n. 244; Royal Palace, Madrid, “[1ª] pieza de vestir”, 1814-1818, n. 244)

Ambrosio Spínola, the Genoese general in charge of Spanish troops in Flanders receives the keys to the city of Breda from the Dutch governor, Justin of Nassau, ending a long siege. This occurred on 5 June 1625. At the time, it was considered a key moment in the long war waged by the Spanish to prevent Dutch independence.

The work has a clear propagandistic bent, emphasizing the clemency of the Spanish monarchy. Unlike other paintings of contemporary history, the present one takes no joy in victory, and the only evidence of the battle is the smoking background. Velázquez focuses our attention of the foreground, where preparations are being made not only to end the war, but also to initiate the peace that follows.

The painting is an excellent example of this artist's mastery of all pictorial resources: skill at crating atmosphere, light and landscape in his works, mastery of portraiture, and a profound knowledge of aerial perspective.

 

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