Diego Velázquez


Philip IV on Horseback by Diego Velázquez

Background and Influence:

     Philip IV on Horseback was painted in Madrid, Spain in 1635 by Diego Velázquez. The painting is currently on display at Museo Nacional Del Prado. In the Painting King Philip IV can be seen wearing armor and a sash, carrying a baton, and seated on a rearing horse, these items all portray a sense of authority and firmness. This portrait was created to show the power and command of King Philip IV.

Velázquez moved to Madrid in 1622 and was given the opportunity to paint a portrait of Count-Duke of Olivares. After seeing his portrait, the Count-Duke recommended the skills of Velázquez to King Philip IV of Spain. Upon seeing the successful paintings of Velázquez, the king decided that he wanted no one but Velázquez to paint him and appointed Velázquez as one of his court painters. When Velázquez moved to the royal court he was able to access a large collection of artwork and was put in contact with many notable artists. Because of this access to paintings and artists, this influenced his work. While under the patronage of King Philip IV, Velázquez created many notable pieces, including one of his most famous pieces, The Triumph of Bacchus. From the Influence of the royalty of King Philip IV, Velázquez was given the opportunity to paint a portrait of Pope Innocent X. Velázquez is remembered as one of greatest masters of Western Art. Many artists after Velázquez consider him an influence. If he had not moved to Madrid in 1622 and received the patronage of King Philip IV would we know his paintings like we do today?

I think this is a fascinating picture, but I would not have it in my home.

Elements of Art and Emotions:

For the elements of art, I decided to focus on the shape, line, color, space, and value of the painting. Velázquez is often regarded as a leader in impressionism and you can see that in his paintings. In his painting King Philip IV on Horseback you can see the shapes are easily defined by his smooth lines from his free and fluid brushstrokes. Impressionists are often known for their very thin brushstrokes and I think from the picture it is very easy to see why Velázquez was a leader in impressionism. His use of fluid brushstrokes to create such flawless lines that turn into the shape of a horse and King Philip IV is very clear. With such detail of King Philip IV’s armor, sash, and the rearing horse you are able to tell he is trying to bring out the emotions of a powerful leader to his people and put fear into his enemies. From this painting, I think Velázquez does a very good job of depicting these emotions. Velázquez does a very good job of creating space in this picture. The focus of this painting is obviously King Philip IV on the horse but Velázquez does a good job of overlapping his lines and colors and detail to make it very clear to define the space in the background, as it flows from the ridge the horse is on to the plain below and seamlessly into the mountain in the back. Velázquez’s use of the dark color in the background does a good job of bringing out that emotion of fear. He does a very good job of contrasting his colors to make the painting look life like. Velázquez’s does a very good job with his use of detailed value. Along with his use of color, and lines he does an excellent job of shadowing to really make the space and shapes come to life. Velázquez’s skills as a painter have made this a very easy picture to admire. I think it is very clear to see why King Philip IV did not want anyone else but Velázquez to paint him.

portrait of a lady

Portrait of a Lady created by Rogier van der Weyden in 1460


For the comparison, I chose to pick another portrait. Portrait of a Lady was painted during the Renaissance period. One difference between the two periods is that artists in the Renaissance period did not completely show the human emotion in their subjects while Baroque artists did. Another difference was that Baroque artists often black out the backdrops but Renaissance artists often developed the backdrops in full detail. But, in the case of Philip IV on Horseback and Portrait of a Lady, the use of backdrops is switched. In the painting from the Baroque painted the backdrop is much more developed while the one from the Renaissance is not.



Works Citied

“Diego Velazquez.” Artble. N.p., 01 Dec. 2016. Web. 19 June 2017.



“Diego Velázquez.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 02 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 June

     2017. <https://www.biography.com/people/diego-vel%C3%A1zquez-38179&gt;.


“Felipe IV on Horseback – The Collection.” Felipe IV on Horseback – The Collection – Museo

     Nacional del Prado. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017.

     <https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/felipe-iv-on-horseback/6fc1d82d-d984-       41b3-b227-af833cfd1240>.


“National Gallery of Art.” Artist Info. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017.



“Portrait of a Lady.” Explore This Work. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017.



“Renaissance Art vs. Baroque Art: Understanding the Difference.” Art Artists Artwork. N.p., n.d.

     Web. 19 June 2017. <https://artsartistsartwork.com/renaissance-art-vs-baroque-art-understanding-the-     difference/&gt;.






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