Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 112

Velázquez composes: prototypes, replicas, and transformations
Velázquez composes: prototypes, replicas, and transformations
The evidence available to date suggests that the
purposes for which Velázquez incorporated traced
templates into his technical procedures evolved
from the closely studied components with which
compositions were constructed in his early work, to
the practical efficacy and authorized guardianship
of the royal delineaments in his role as painter to
the king, to a kind of lively engagement with the
potentialities of flipping identities in the imaginary(?)
portraits in his maturity. While replication had a
role in his production of easel paintings, no example
yet has been identified in his supreme history
paintings, from the Surrender of Breda to The Weavers
(Fable of Arachne), or Las Meninas (even if it is true
that certain personages portrayed individually on
canvas also reappear in the large scale works, for
example, the figure at the right of Surrender of Breda or
the Infanta Margarita at the centre of Las Meninas).
However clever Velázquez was in the efficiencies of
composing in the studio, templates had no place in
the generation of his most sublime images.
Can technical studies contribute to our understanding
of how broader cultural realities conditioned picture
making? I would venture a qualified yes, if technical
information can be meaningfully contextualized.
However, in the absence of an artist’s documented
opinion, the results of technical information cannot
elucidate inner motivation, but simply document
an action taken. The “why” is often a matter for
hypothesis and for debate. Yet, inevitably, technical
knowledge is intriguing because it offers a kind
of material closeness to the creating artist that
contemplating a finished work does not, and our
conjectures about the “why” of technical facts remain
intrinsic to the practice of technical Art History.
Fig. 18 / In this overlay the
semi-transparent images of
Democritus and Man with
a Wine Glass have been
registered on the head of the
figure. The traced outline of
the head of the Toledo figure is
overlaid on the Rouen painting,
showing graphically how
closely the features coincide.
Such accuracy would normally
be the result of using a cartoon
Gridley McKim-Smith, “La técnica sevillana de
Velázquez,” in Velázquez y Sevilla, ed. Alfredo J.
Morales, 2 vols., exh. cat. (Seville: Monasterio de
la Cartuja de Santa María de las Cuevas, Salas del
Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, 1999) II,
pp. 108-123.
Francisco Pacheco, El arte de la pintura (1649), ed.
Bonaventura Bassegoda y Hugas (Madrid: Cátedra, 1990).
Pacheco, El arte, p. 290, quotes the verse of his friend
Pablo de Céspedes (1538-1608):“I luego miraras por
donde pasa cierto el contorno de la bella Idea…”
McKim-Smith, “La técnica sevillana de Velázquez,”
II, pp. 108-23.
Pacheco, El arte, p. 435 “… que en los perfiles
consistia la verdadera imitacion de los Retratos.”
The contract for Velázquez’s apprenticeship was first
published in Varia in Antonio Gallego y Burín, ed.,
Velazqueña: Homenaje a Velázquez en el III centenario de su
muerte, 1660-1960, 2 vols. (Madrid: Edición planeada,
1960), II, pp. 215-216, doc. 8.
See particularly, Frank Zuccari, “Radiography
Applied to the Study of a Portrait of Philip IV
in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” in The
Application of Science in Examination of Works of Art,
(seminar proceedings, 1983), ed. Patricia England
and Lambertus van Zelst (Boston: Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston, 1985), pp. 251-261; Carmen Garrido,
Velázquez: Técnica y evolución (Madrid: Museo del Prado,
1992); Zahira Véliz, “Velázquez’s Early Technique,”
in Velázquez in Seville, ed. Michael Clarke, exh. cat.
(Edinburgh: National Gallery of Scotland, 1997),
pp. 79-84; Jaime García-Máiquez, “La cuadratura
del círculo: calco y originalidad en la pintura del
primer Velázquez,” in El joven Velázquez. A propósito de
La educación de la Virgen de Yale, ed. Benito Navarrete
(Seville: Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, Instituto de la
cultura y el arte en Sevilla, 2015), pp. 94-263.
Michael Gallagher, “Velázquez’s Philip IV in the
Metropolitan Museum,” Metropolitan Museum Journal
45 (2010): pp. 187-198.
For discussions on the use of tracings and templates
see for Titian see: Miguel Falomir, “Titian’s Replicas
and Variants,” in Titian, ed. David Jaffé, exh. cat.
(London: National Gallery, 2003), pp. 60-68; for
Barocci see: Ian Verstegen, “Barocci, Cartoons, and
the Workshop: A Mechanical Means for Satisfying
Demand,” Notizie da Palazzo Albani 34/35 (20052006): pp. 101-124; for Caravaggio see: Richard
Spear, “Caravaggio’s ‘Crucifixion of St. Andrew’ and
the Problem of Autograph Replicas,” The Burlington
Magazine 160 (2018): pp. 454-461.
The first publication comparing radiographs of
portraits of Philip IV by Velázquez and his workshop
is Zuccari, “Radiography Applied”. Further
interpretations of radiographic images of these
portraits were published by Garrido, Velázquez: Técnica
y evolución, also Carmen Garrido, “Puntualizaciones
sobre algunos retratos de Diego Velázquez,” Goya:
Revista de arte 298 (2004): pp. 4-24, and Gallagher,
“Velázquez’s Philip IV,” and García-Maíquez, “La
cuadratura del círculo,” among others.
Pacheco, El arte, “…hará las lineas de afuera con tanta
destreza, I propiedad como si huviesse de quedar assi, I
no se passe adelante hasta estar el Pintor satisfecho que
se parece mucho a su dueño en los perfiles,” pp. 439-440.
Zuccari, “Radiography Applied”.
Gallagher, “Velázquez’s Philip IV”; García-Maíquez,
“La cuadratura del círculo”.
Javier Portús, “Velázquez in Gray: Decorum and
Representation,” in Diego Velázquez: The Early Court
Portraits, eds. Javier Portús et al., exh. cat. (Dallas:
Meadows Museum, 2012), pp. 17-35, see p. 28, fig. 7.
Rodrigo Caro, Obras, 2 vols. (Seville: Sociedad de
Bibliófilios Andaluces, 1883-1884), p. 5, quoted in José
Antonio Maravall, Culture of the Baroque. Analysis of a
Historical Structure, trans. Terry Cochran, in Theory and
History of Literature, 88 vols. (Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 1981-1996), XXV, p. 178; originally
published in José Antonio Maravall, La cultura del
Barroco (Barcelona: Editorial Ariel, 1975).
Portús, “Velázquez in Gray”.
Zahira Véliz, “La Venerable Madre Jerónima
de la Fuente,” in Obras maestras de Velázquez: IV
Centenario (Madrid: Fundación Amigos del Museo
del Prado, 1999), pp. 397-414; and Tanya Tiffany,
Diego Velázquez’s Early Paintings and the Culture of
Seventeenth-Century Seville (Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2012), pp. 49-76.
García Máiquez, “La cuadratura del círculo”.
Gallagher “Velázquez’s Philip IV”.
For the use of printed sources in the composition
of Spanish flower paintings, see Peter Cherry, Arte y
naturaleza: El bodegón español en el Siglo de Oro, trans. Ivars
Barzdevics (Madrid: Fundación del Arte Hispánico,
1999); and Rafael Romero Asenjo, El bodegón español
en el siglo XVII: desvelando su naturaleza oculta (Madrid: I
& R Restauración y Estudios Técnicos de Pintura de
cabaellete, 2009).
Gridley McKim-Smith et al., “Velazquez: Painting from
Life,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 40 (2005): pp. 79-91.
McKim-Smith, “Velazquez: Painting from Life”.
The author is indebted to Frank Zuccari, Executive
Director of Conservation at the Art Institute of
Chicago, whose collaboration made this close
comparison possible.
José Manuel Matilla et al., No solo Goya. Adquisiciones
para el Gabinete de Dibujos y Estampas del Museo del Prado,
1997-2010, exh. cat. (Madrid: Museo del Prado, 2011):
available on-line, accessed July 2018, https://www.;
see no. 1, p. 20, where the method of assembly is
described as, “De este modo el dibujo se constituyó
como un rompecabezas, elaborando con grupos
parciales e independientes, que le permitió incluso
corregir partes sin descartar el todo…” (Thus the
drawing was made up like puzzle, working with each
independent part, which even allowed the correction of
parts without sacrificing the entire drawing…)
Pacheco, El arte, pp. 307-309. See also Benito
Navarrete, “A New Preparatory Drawing for
Francisco Pacheco’s Last Judgment: Creative Process
and Theological Approval,” Master Drawings 48
(2010): pp. 435-446.
See Tiffany, Diego Velázquez’s Early Paintings.
See McKim-Smith, “Velazquez: Painting from Life.”
Pacheco, El arte, pp. 452.
C. Michael Kauffmann, Catalogue of Paintings in the
Wellington Museum, Apsley House (1982) ed. Susan
Jenkins (London: English Heritage, 2009), no. 182,
pp. 302-304.
For Pacheco’s humanist circle see particularly, Luis
Méndez Rodríguez, “Francisco Pacheco y la nueva
cultura artística,” and Juan Montero Delgado, “El
pintor Pacheco y las letras sevillanas del Siglo de
Oro,” both in Pacheco. Teórico, artista, maestro, ed. Luis
Méndez Rodríguez, exh. cat. (Seville: Museo de Bellas
Artes de Sevilla, 2016), pp. 13-24 and pp. 25-36.
Pacheco’s studio, a centre for humanist and artistic
circles, was described as “a gilded cage of Art” by
Palomino: “Era la casa de Pacheco Cárcel dorada
del Arte”; Antonio Palomino, El museo pictórico y escala
óptica (1715-1724), 3 vols. (Madrid, Agular, 1988), III
(Parnaso español), p. 82.
Until recently the two paintings were dated ca. 1638.
Guillaume Kientz, Velázquez, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée
du Louvre, 2015), no. 94, p. 300, gives the date of
Portrait of a Young Woman (Chatsworth, Devonshire
Collection) as ca. 1639, and Lady with a Fan (London,
Wallace Collection) as ca. 1640.
Until recently the two paintings were dated ca. 1638. In
Guillaume Kientz, Velázquez, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du
Louvre, 2015), no. 94, p. 300, gives the date of Portrait of
a Young Woman (Devonshire Collection) as ca. 1639 and
Lady with a Fan (Wallace Collection) as ca. 1640.
Maravall, Culture of the Baroque, p. 179.
Zahira Véliz, “Signs of Identity in ’Lady with a
Fan’ by Diego Velázquez: Costume and Likeness
Reconsidered,” The Art Bulletin 86 (2004): pp. 75-95.
Maravall, Culture of the Baroque, pp. 199-200.
Kientz, Velázquez, no. 56, p. 216.
Pacheco, El arte, “of many things a pleasing whole”.
See “Copia de los pareceres, y censuras de los
reverendissimos padres maestros, y señores
catedraticos de las insignes universidades de
Salamanca y Alcalá, y de otras personas doctas.
Sobre el abuso de las figuras, y pinturas lascivas, y
deshonestas; en que se muestra, que es pecado mortal
pintarlas, esculpirlas, y tenerlas patentes donde sean
vistas” (Madrid, 1632) reprinted in Francisco J. Calvo
Serraller, Teoría de la pintura del Siglo de Oro (Madrid:
Cátedra, 1981), pp. 237-258; p. 244: “ganancia en
transformarse una Venus en Santa María Magdalena,
y una Diana en Santa María Egipciaca…” (it is a
benefit gained to transform a Venus into a Saint Mary
Magdalene, and a Diana into Saint Mary of Egypt).


Powered by

Full screen Click to read
Paperturn flipbook viewer
Download as PDF
Shopping cart
Full screen
Exit full screen