The Surrender of Breda (1634-35)
by VELÁZQUEZ

In the throne-room of Buen Retiro where courtly ceremony was displayed to the full, symbolically representing the monarchy to the outside world, there were twelve battle scenes showing the latest victories won under Philip IV. All the military paintings follow the same standard pattern: they banish war itself to the background and show the victorious commanders full-length in the foreground, where the figures of rulers are usually placed in other works.

Most of the battle pieces have been painted by Eugenio Cajes and Vicente Carducho, and their assistants. They are not particularly original, unlike The Surrender of Breda, the contribution by Velázquez. In this painting Velázquez makes a fundamental statement about humane conduct amidst the horrors of war. Many contemporary witnesses felt sure that the long struggle for the Netherlands would determine the future position of Spain as a world power. The most important fortress in the southern Netherlands was Breda in Brabant, and the strategic significance of the place was correctly assessed by Philip IV's best commander in the Thirty Years' War, Ambrosio Spinola. The commander of the fortress on the opposite side, Justinus of Nassau, was another military man famous throughout Europe. After a four-month siege and when all the provisions in the fortress had run out, he was forced to petition for an honourable surrender. Spinola allowed him to leave under conditions that were extremely generous for the period. Velázquez represents Spinola as having dismounted from hid horse to meet the Dutch commander on equal footing. Instead of accepting the token of surrender, he places a hand on the Dutchman's shoulder, offering a consolation of one soldier to another.

Preview Picture Data Info
The Surrender of Breda (Las Lanzas)
1634-35
Oil on canvas, 307 x 367 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Surrender of Breda (detail)
1634-35
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Surrender of Breda (detail)
1634-35
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Surrender of Breda (detail)
1634-35
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Surrender of Breda (detail)
1634-35
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Surrender of Breda (detail)
1634-35
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid



Summary of paintings by Velázquez
until 1620 | 1621-1630 | 1631-1635
Surrender of Breda | Equestrian portraits
Las Meninas | Las Hilanderas
1636-1640 | 1641-1650 | 1651-1660



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