Velázquez and The Surrender of Breda by Anthony Bailey download in pdf, ePub, iPad
The capital of the Brabant, Breda was in a position to pose a real threat to Antwerp, the capital of the Spanish Netherlands. We find no violent reds, greens, nor blues, no upstart glitter, no brilliant gew-gaws. Truth pushed to the point of portraiture does not diminish in the slightest degree the dignity of the historical style. The Surrender of Breda is his sole surviving historical canvas, but is nonetheless one of the best Baroque paintings of its type.
At the same time, by highlighting Spinola's consideration for Nassau and the Dutch army, the artist reveals Spain's peaceful intentions as well as its military power. They express the calm joy of triumph, tranquil pride of race, and familiarity with great events. These sacrifices were not always those that another painter would have made. Velazquez also varies his brushwork. These portraits were intended to establish the legitimacy of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty and illustrate their succession to the throne.
Unusually bright when compared to works like Las Meninas or the Waterseller, The Surrender of Breda even features pastel blues and pinks - in the soldiers background and flags right. One of the greatest challenges of developing this fantastic complex, of course, was the decoration. The Dutch had turned the city into one of the most impenetrable fortresses in Europe, with a complicated and extensive system of moats, trenches, canals, and other structures.
The painting illustrates the ceremonial exchange of keys that took place three days after the official capitulation of the Dutch forces at Breda. Spinola had made a military reputation for himself in and been rewarded with the Order of the Golden Fleece for conquering Ostend in Flanders.
He is by no means a poor, embarrassed artist who only sees his models while they are posing and has never lived with them. Defending the Dutch, Maurice of Nassau led hostilities against Spinola but died before the end of the siege. The governor then presented himself with his family, kinsfolk and distinguished students of the military academy, who had been shut up in the place during the siege. The town was the seat of the Orange family, who had a castle there.
Progress was glacially slow during the first nine months, and the Dutch mocked the Spanish for their unsuccessful attempts to no end. It seems that most of the Dutch weapons that have either been destroyed, thrown away, or dipped in defeat. Also noticeable is how Velazquez handles colour in the painting, almost certainly the result of studing Renaissance art during his visit to Italy. No qualification would suit him better. Flags quartered with white and blue, their folds agitated by the wind, break in the happiest manner the straight lines of the lances held upright by the Spaniards.