baptised 6 June 1599, Seville, Andalusia – 6 August 1660, Madrid
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was the most important Spanish painter of the 17th century, a giant of Western art, leading artist in the court of King Philip IV.
The naturalistic style in which he was trained provided a language for the expression of his remarkable power of observation in portraying both the living model and still life.
Stimulated by the study of 16th-century Venetian painting, he developed from a master of faithful likeness and characterization into the creator of masterpieces of visual impression unique in his time.
With brilliant diversity of brushstrokes and subtle harmonies of color, he achieved effects of form and texture, space, light, and atmosphere, that make him the chief forerunner of 19th-century French Impressionism.
He painted scores of portraits of the Spanish royal family, other notable European figures, and commoners, culminating in the production of his masterpiece Las Meninas (1656).