VELÁZQUEZ, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y
(b. 1599, Sevilla, d. 1660, Madrid)

Portrait of a Knight of the Order of Santiago

c. 1635
Oil on canvas, 67 x 56 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

In the eighteenth century this painting was attributed either to Rubens or his pupil Van Dyck. The mistaken attribution is not surprising. Through their close study of Titian, the naturalness of their approach, the immediacy of their portrayals, and their depth of psychological penetration, the portraits of the mature Velázquez come far closer to Van Dyck than to any of his Spanish contemporaries. The parallels extend even to the thin, almost sketchy manner in which the two artists applied their paint.

In this portrait, the man's hair hangs over his ears like a veil, and Velázquez has deliberately incorporated the ground here as part of the effect. He is content with economical strokes, dashed off lightly but with the utmost confidence, to indicate the details of the garments.