Portrait of a Spanish Lady
("La Femme a l'Eventail")
By Velazquez

Portrait of a Spanish Lady
("La Femme a l'Eventail")
By Velazquez (1599-1660)
In the Wallace Collection, London

It is interesting to note in studying the art of Velazquez that his unrivalled reputation in the world of art is founded upon a comparatively small number of works. One critic computes that those known to be in existence number eighty-nine, though he acknowledges that some have disappeared from the royal palaces of Spain, we should not have as many pictures to represent the forty years of the artist's life as Sir Joshua Reynolds was known to produce in a single year.

When Velazquez was in his early twenties King Philip IV. of Spain appointed him Court Painter, and the artist was thus relieved of the necessity of painting religious subjects in order to secure the patronage of the rich Church. He painted altogether some forty portraits of his royal master, and though he necessarily specialised in this class of work, he excelled in landscape and animal pictures, and enriched with his genius every branch of art except marine painting.

Velazquez makes no appeal as the user of a brilliant pigment. He loves the sober tints of grey and silver, although upon occasion he does not disdain the use of reds and pinks. He was essentially a realist, painting from models and not from the imagination, and he rcognised his limitations so thoroughly that he avoided the weaknesses they might otherwise have betrayed him into. In this way he achieved that superb mastery which placed him in the forefront of the world's greatest painters, and has profoundly influenced the work of his successors, notably Corot, Millet, Whistler and Sargent.

The present picture is noteworthy as showing a lady of a type other than that representative of the Court circles. The same model appears in "The Lady in the Mantilla" in the Duke of Devonshire's collection, which very likely served as a preliminary study for this strong expression of his genius.

From the book "Famous Paintings" printed in 1913.

Large files of this public domain print are available at Stock Photos at Songs of Praise
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Online "Name the Painting"

Diego Velazquez
at Web Museum, Paris

Paintings by Velazquez
extensive display by year at the Web Gallery of Art

Velazquez Biography and Prints
(Spanish version)

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Portrait of a Spanish Lady
"La Femme a L'Eventail"

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James McNeill Whistler

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Index Page
Famous Paintings