Behind the famous painting by Diego Velázquez lies a rich story of the artist's life in art
What began as propaganda art to celebrate a rare Spanish victory in the Eighty Years' War with Holland, The Surrender at Breda is today recognized as Velázquez's narrative masterpiece.
Breda is packed with vivid military detail—whole armies are suggested on the huge canvas, twelve feet high and eleven feet wide. Unlike typical surrender scenes, there is neither a heroic victor on horseback nor a vanquished commander on his knees. Instead the rivals appear on foot almost as equals. The loser bends forward to offer the key and receives a chivalrous pat on his shoulder, as if to say: "Fortune has favored me, but our roles might have been reversed."
Anthony Bailey examines the paintings from which the artist arose, coaxing stories from them that flesh out a complete portrait of one of the world's major artists whose personal life has remained largely unknown.
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Passages of great eloquence cohabit with woolly arguments, infelicities of tone and bizarre episodes of carelessness—perhaps pointing to a fundamental mismatch of writer and subject... In either case, the muse is simply not with him on this adventure, and the book clatters to an unsatisfying conclusion.Read Full Review of Velázquez and The Surrender o... | See more reviews from WSJ online