Velazquez’s The Toilet of Venus

One of the most stunning paintings in the National Gallery is The Toilet of Venus, which is also known as The Rokeby Venus because it was part of the Morritt Collection in Rokeby Hall in Yorkshire before being added to the Gallery’s permanent collection. There are many spectacular things to note about this painting, beginning with its creator.Painted by Diego Vel;zquez, it is one of the most note-worthy of his works. Vel;zquez was the leading painter of the Spanish school. Born in Seville in 1599 his works fall into the Baroque period of art.From the young age of 11, Vel;zquez acted an apprentice. His earliest teachings were from Francisco de Herrera the elder, whom he soon left for the studio of Pacheco, where he remained for five years. This training is reflected in his works, especially early on, where there is a strong naturalistic quality. After marrying Pacheco’s daughter, he moved to Madrid.He remained there under the protection of the cond; de Olivares. He soon became a court painter.When famous baroque painter Rubens visited the Spanish court near the end of 1629, Vel;zquez was influenced to travel to Italy to observe and work. He returned to the Spanish court two years later, and entered into what is considered the second stage of his professional artistic life. Over the next two decades his work was a tribute to the Spanish school. He traveled to Italy for the King, of whom he was a personal friend, purchasing works for the royal collection. He is credited with significantly enriching the collection.
This second trip to Italy led to his painting of The Rokeby Venus, his only surviving nude. The Rokeby Venusisfirst recorded in June 1651 as part of the collection of the Marqu;s del Carpio, son of the First Minister of Spain.Most likely, the painting was commissioned by the Marqu;s, and then displayed privately. That fact saved Vel;zquez from being targe…


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