Rehabilitating Velasquez

October 24 2012

Image of Rehabilitating Velasquez

Picture: Prado/Met

The Prado has borrowed the Met's recently re-discovered Velasquez. This video about the restoration of the picture is worth a click.

Both the Prado and the Met call it an unknown sitter. To me, it feels like a self-portrait, both compositionally and in its unfinished state. It looks very like him too, don't you think? The picture bears a close resemblance to a head on the far right in Velasquze's Surrender of Breda, which was once thought to be a self-portrait, though the Prado's website says that this idea 'is no longer accepted'. Personally, the head in question in The Surrender also feels to me like a cheeky self-portrait, in the way it beckons you towards it at the edge of the canvas. Such a conceit is of course not uncommon.

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