Velazquez is a personality about whom much has been said but this little anecdote will probably help us understand him better for anecdotes probably reveal more about a person than any historical account can ever can. During one of his visits to Italy, Velazquez painted a portrait of his colored slave Juan de Pareja, and before exhibiting the painting, Velazquez, made Pareja himself carry it around to some influential Roman personalities. "They stood staring at the painted canvas, and then at the original, with admiration and amazement, not knowing which they should address and which would answer them."
This particular incident not only reveals a lot about Velazquez’s undeniable talent but also about his showmanship. For his intention behind sending Pareja with the painting was a singularly theatrical one. He not only meant to impress his prospective benefactor, he wanted to dazzle them. He was indeed a master of conceptual drama.
Born to a lawyer of noble Portuguese descent, and a Lady of Seville's hidalgo class, an order of minor aristocracy, in June 1599, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez showed a keen interest in art from a very young age.Seeing this his parents sent him to study art under Francisco de Herrera, a vigorous painter who disregarded the Italian influence of the early Seville school. Velázquez remained with him for one year. Soon he moved on to Pacheco's (a realist painter) and was in his school for five years, studying proportion and perspective and witnessing the trends in the literary and artistic circles of Seville.
Velasquez' great skill in merging color, light, space, rhythm of line, and mass in such a way that all have equal value, earned him the title of "the painter's painter." He had the specail ability to seize essential features and fix them on canvas with a few broad, sure strokes. "His men and women seem to breathe," it has been said; "his horses are full of action and his dogs of life."
Many consider Las Meninas (also known as The Maids of Honour) to be the greatest example of Velazquez’z skills as a painter.Not only is this painting deceptively hermetic it also a delightful study of social hierarchy.
This painting depicts the scene of Infanta Margarita, eldest daughter of the new queen, surrounded a number of maids and attendants,there is also her dwarf, and her mastiff, while Velázquez is seen standing at his own easel.
This is a composition makes an enormous impact on its viewer for as soon as one gets involved in it one begins to interpret different meanings out of it. The Infanta Margarita stands proudly amongst her maids of honour, with a dwarf to the right. Although she is the smallest, she is clearly the central figure; one of her maids is kneeling before her, and the other leaning towards her, so that the standing Infanta, with her broad hooped skirt, becomes the fulcrum of the movement. The dwarf, about the same size as the Infanta, is so ugly that Margarita appears delicate, fragile and precious in comparison.