Velazquez at the National Gallery

November 3, 2006

Last night I popped in to the Velasquez exhibit at the National Gallery. I had not that he was such a progressive artist.

He used incredible economy of brush stroke. In fact some paintings remained unfinished with only the outline of the hand or the sketch of the arm complete with the rest of the painting perfectly expressive. He was apparently trying to get across the same impression that one gets by looking at an object or person. Whilst the face may be in perfect focus, the objects around contain little detail and are in fact blurred. By focussing the attention of his brush on the central object, he re-creates the impression one gets through sight.

He was painting some 350 years ago – this was not the time of Manet.

Another painting that really struck me was of Prince Philip in an ornate brown/black and silver suit. The image on this screen doesn’t do the painting justice – as you’d expect. Up close, the painting is a bit blurred – with a maze of twirls and twists of grey and white. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the brush storkes. But, step back a few feet and things come together. The pattern becomes evident and you can see the way the seeming random strokes portray the glitter of the silver brocade embroidery.

Worth a look.


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