Updated on September 26, 2017 Peggy Woods moreI live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets. When my husband and I were visiting Madrid, Spain in 1992 we elected to take a tour of the famous Prado Museum. The hours that we spent there were not even enough to gain a full overview of this magnificent museum filled with world renowned works of many famous artists. But what we did garner was a greater appreciation of the sublime canvasses painted by such notable artists as Diego de Silva Velazquez and El Greco among others. The intent of this post is to focus on the pictures that were taken that day of paintings by Velazquez. They do allow photographs to be taken as long as flash photography is not utilized. This first picture shows my hubby standing in front of The Fable of Arachne also known as The Spinners. It portrays a spinning contest between the Greek goddess Pallas Athena and a girl known as Arachne.

Athena disguised herself as an older woman (the one on the left with white scarf on her head) and when Arachne (in the white blouse on the right) boasted that she could win any spinning contest, the challenge was begun. Arachne naturally lost and was turned into a spider so the legend is told. Velazquez painted this Adoration of the Magi in 1619 when he was around twenty years of age for a church in Seville. At an early age he showed mastery of portraiture painting as this readily portrays. He had studied as a pupil in the Seville studio of Francisco Pacheco and that is where he met his future wife, Pacheco’s only daughter. His prowess in painting got him admitted at a very young age as a master in the Seville painters’ guild. Velazquez liked to paint ordinary people and simple objects in a way that he became noticed and he inspired others to learn from his painting techniques. In 1622 he made his way to Madrid where he painted a portrait of the influential court poet Don Luis de Gongora.

When the king’s favorite court painter died, Velazquez was summoned to the court and that began a decades long job of painting for Spain’s royalty. Philip IV was only sixteen years of age when he came to power as king in 1621 and his years at court and those of his family became well documented by Velazquez. Velazquez who was baptized in Sevilla, Spain on June 6, 1599, died on August 6, 1660 in Madrid, Spain. He spent over 40 years of his life working as an artist in Madrid and captured the life of the new young king and kept painting him as he matured. The very first portrait of the young king was painted when Philip was a mere 18 years of age. The king obviously liked riding horses and while in the Prado Museum we saw a progression of horse paintings with the king at different ages as he grew older sitting atop different mounts. King Philip IV ruled over many other kingdoms and was also supposed to be the Defender of the Faith, helping Catholicism triumph over the (considered at that time) heresy of Protestantism. That was a mighty job for a teenaged king!

When viewing this large painting that was designed to hang over a doorway, if one looks straight on, the horse looks bloated. But when viewed as intended, the perspective of this masterful painting is more in line as it was seen looking up at an angle. Prince Baltasar Carlos, Equestrian was painted in 1634 to 1635. Notice the beautiful landscape in the background. The Forge of Vulcan was painted in 1630 and tells quite a tale. The Roman sun god Apollo is telling Vulcan, the god of fire and metalwork that his wife Venus, has been adulterous with the god of war Mars. Notice the shocked look on the face of Vulcan as he looks at the orange robed Apollo. Painted in 1632, this work by Velazquez is titled Christ Crucified. Note the dark background so that the entire focus is on the cross and body of Christ. This painting titled Los Borrachos or The Drinkers / The Drunks is also known as The Feast of Bacchus.

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