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Profile of the Day: Diego Velázquez

On this day in 1599, Spanish painter Diego Velázquez was born. Today Velázquez is remembered as one of the most important Spanish painters of the 17th century.

Profile of the Day: Diego Velázquez

Diego Velázquez / Wikimedia Commons

He was born Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez in Seville, Spain to João Rodrigues de Silva and Jerónima Velázquez. His paternal grandparents were from Portugal and were possibly Jewish coversos. At the age of 12, Velázquez apprenticed under the painter Francisco Pacheco. After completing his apprenticeship, he married Pacheco’s daughter, Juana, and together they had two children.

Thanks to his father-in-law’s connections, Velázquez had the opportunity to paint for the Count-Duke of Olivares, a powerful minister of King Philip IV. Velázquez soon became one of the leading artists in Philip IV’s court and became known for his portraits of the Spanish royal family. His painting, Las Meninas, is often considered to be Velázquez’s masterpiece.

In 1660, the peace treaty between Spain and France resulted in the marriage of Philip IV’s daughter, Maria Theresa, and Louis XIV of France. Velázquez was placed in charge of the decorations of the Spanish pavilion for the wedding on the island of Bidassoa. Following his return home, Velázquez fell ill. He died shortly after on August 6, 1660.

Explore Diego Velázquez’s family tree on Geni and share your connection to the Spanish artist.

View Diego Velázquez’s Geni Profile


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