The 17th century was an epoch of great advances in the fields, literature and art. It gave birth to such wonderful creators as Diego Velazquez and Paul Rubens – the artists that have changed the face of European painting classics forever.
Diego de Silva Velazquez is one of the greatest Spanish painters who followed the trend of secularism. Although Spain was originally dominated by religious doctrines, the sensitiveness and intrigue inside the masterpieces by Velazquez such as Las Meninas is beyond time and space. Complex intellectuality, mysterious image and simply skillful work, Las Meninas is the top point of the relationship between Velazquez and his high-ranking patron – King Philip the Fourth of Spain (Barghahn 134).
Most probably, this patronage appeared to be very beneficial for Velazquez to work on creating his personal style and giving him additional confidence in his talent for painting. Starting from 1623, Velazquez appeared to be a “family” painter for the Royal family members and the court of the king. That is the reason why his portraits have a special value depicting all the tiny details incorporated in the life and decline of a famous and powerful dynasty of Europe. His talent was greatly appreciated by the monarch himself as he used to come in and watch the master at work almost every day (Lafuente 55-60).
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The manner of reflecting the monarchy was very similar to the political campaigns that are practiced today too. Although it may seem that Velazquez was primarily interested in royal portraiture, he paid attention to the psychology of poor and disgraced in Seville (Visual Arts 7).
His early works were mostly influenced by Caravaggio, and that’s when Velazquez starts to demonstrate his affection for rich detail and realism in depicting the “shrimp” of the society that “swam” through the streets of Seville. Therefore, Velazquez started with deep humanism showing that there is nothing usual about every personality and everyday activities, especially if the spectator looks closer and tries to understand the psychology of another person. Being poor and unnoticed doesn’t make you unnoticed to the penetrating and lucid eye of Velazquez who puts kings and beggars next to each other in the gallery of his creations.
Titian was the one to affect his royalty portraiture – the best costumes and the best backgrounds are used to support the general idea of luxury and power of the royal family. Gabsburgs cannot be called beautiful – nevertheless, Velazquez manages to show them from an unusual prospective stressing out their honesty and nobility without changing their real life appearances (Barghahn 133).
Velazquez can be characterized by unparalleled painting style that included intriguing lighting, saturated coloring or even free brush strokes. Velazquez managed to catch the naturalism degree that was never possible before and stayed unexcelled until now. His art heritage has become a masterpiece example for many great artists of the following centuries.
Peter Paul Rubens is known to have a biography full of bright events and happenings. He can be characterized as a leader of Baroque style combining the refined grace of Italian High Renaissance with the realistic view and landscapes typical for the northern school of European painting. Rubens is a diamond among many artists of that time – he is full of energy, has powerful imagination, strong health, charismatic personality and pleasant appearance. Rubens had a real gift for feeling perfect harmony and is considered a happy artist who never knew doubts or disappointments in his creative work. The most attractive part for him was the absolutely soft and obedient mobility of the human body (Filwest Associates 3-4).
Rubens’ rocketed career step in march with the political trends of the 17th-century Europe as he painted for almost all European courts including Italian, English, French and Spanish nobility. Rubens finds himself out of religion prejudices as he felt attracted to mythological scenes or royalty portraits, landscapes or religious altarpieces. One of Rubens’ peculiarities in art is the appearance of nude women that are used to supplement his deep allegories of religious context. In 1608 Rubens opened a popular art studio in Antwerp hiring talented artists like Anthony van Dyck. The latter served as a court painter for the English king. Rubens’ contribution into the art development in general is hard to evaluate as his paintings are unparalleled masterpieces that inspired new talents to rise. Without influential effect of Rubens, the art school in Europe would never be the same. The king of Baroque, Rubens finds his hallmark in the intensity of coloring and complex lightness of the composition. His pictures are not merely descriptive – they tell long and breathtaking stories about real kings and queens or legendary events from the myths (History World 12).
Rubens becomes friends with Velazquez and it opens the heart of King Philip to him as well. Charles I also remarks him with a knighthood for his achievements.
Two majestic creators that created masterpieces to celebrate the monarchy and court, deserve to be called kings themselves due to their unsurpassed skills and bright subjects hard to forget about.