Diego Velazquez

Hi everyone! This week I wanted to discuss a Spanish Baroque artist called Diego Roderiguez de Silva y Velazquez. Velazquez was a Spanish Baroque artist, who was prominent in Seville and Madrid. Velazquez had an artistic talent from a young age; his parents had placed him in an apprenticeship at the age of eleven under Francisco Pacheco. As he grew up, his skill in painting gained him a place in the court of the Habsburg family.

There are three paintings that I wanted to talk about today that revolve around the death and Resurrection of Christ by Velazquez.

The first painting is called Christ after the Flagellation Contemplated by the Christian Soul, and it was created between 1628 and 1629.

Christ after the Flagellation Contemplated by the Christian Soul created between 1628 and 1629

Image from National Gallery

This painting is uniquely original for Velazquez because it is an uncommon depiction of the Flagellation of Christ. In paintings, we often see Christ in the middle of being tormented by the prisoners. Here, we see that Christ was just harmed by the soldiers, which is evident with the the sticks and whip. placed near Christ By just looking at this painting, we can see the immense pain that Christ is undergoing.

Behind Christ we see a representation of a boy, who is meant to be a Christian Soul, and his Guardian Angel. The original element that Velazquez adds to this painting is that he is encouraging us viewers to follow the example of the young boy, who recognizes and reflects on the pain that Christ went through for us.

The second example of a painting of Christ made by Velazquez is called Christ Crucified created in 1632.

Christ Crucified created in 1632. 

Image from Wikipedia

Typical of Baroque paintings of the time, Velazquez places Christ against a black background to emphasize the importance of this event. Velazquez consumes this entire painting with the Cross and Christ; by doing this, Velazquez highlights the pain and brutality that Christ had undergone for our sins. This is even further emphasized through the size of the painting, 98in by 67in. Since the painting is large, Velazquez is presenting to us the sacrifice that Christ has done for us. We can see, in detail, the wounds and the blood dripping; we also see Christ’s willingness to die for us through his obedient face, since he is doing what God wanted him to do for us.

The last painting is called Supper at Emmaus created between 1622 and 1623.

Supper at Emmaus created between 1622 and 1623

Image from MET

This painting represents Christ after his Resurrection, when he dined with the two disciples at Emmaus. Here we only see  Luke and Cleopas, and they are in the middle of realizing that this guest is Christ; they realize this is Christ because he “took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them” (Luke 24:30).

Compared to the other two paintings, this is the lightest painting. Velazquez has a light coming from and behind Christ. Additionally, even in this moment of amazement, Christ is not focused on the two figures, but he is holding the bread and looking up to God.

As a final note to reflect on, what’s interesting about this painting is how Christ is dressed. Velazquez represents Christ’s clothes, here, in the same way that he represents the clothes of the Virgin Mary in Coronation of the Virgin Mary and Virgin Mary. This most likely shows the importance of both these two figures are for us and for one another in their lives.

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