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Velázquez and The Surrender of Breda: The Making of a Masterpiece

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  16 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
Behind the famous painting by Diego Velázquez lies a rich story of the artist's life in art

What began as propaganda art to celebrate a rare Spanish victory in the Eighty Years' War with Holland, The Surrender at Breda is today recognized as Velázquez's narrative masterpiece.

Breda is packed with vivid military detail—whole armies are suggested on the huge canvas, twelve fee
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Henry Holt and Co.
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On the whole this is a good introduction to the art of Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660). Bailey comes to this painter in a diffraction from his earlier study of Vermeer: A View of Delft. I am probably a harsher judge, but Bailey seemed less in command here, except in the sections that require a knowledge of the difficult relations between the Lower Countries and Spain during the late 16C and early 17C. Not surprisingly the best part of the book is the one dealing with Velázquez’s
Jonathan Lopez
"The Surrender of Breda," a midcareer masterpiece by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), depicts a rare, graceful moment of Spanish triumph during the Eighty Years' War, which pitted imperial Spain against the fledgling Dutch Republic. After capturing the city of Breda in 1625, the commander of the Spanish forces, Ambrogio Spinola, declined to humiliate the Dutch under Justin of Nassau, saying he considered it "a point of wisdom to be merciful rather than severe." Velázquez shows Spinola placing a cons ...more
Margaret Sankey
I like this trend of using one painting to anchor an examination of an artist's whole career and the context in which he worked. In this case, Bailey centers his work on the massive Surrender of Breda, detailing the siege, the grinding on of the Thirty Years' War, Velazquez and his route to the Spanish court, the presence of Moriscos and north African slaves in the artist's household, Italian baroque influences, Hapsburg inbreeding, the sketchy nature of court financing and salaries and Velazque ...more
Feb 15, 2012 Kyle rated it really liked it
When I was younger I wasn't really into art, mainly because I do not possess any artistic ability. However, when I was a senior in high school I realized that I could no longer avoid the Fine Arts requirement and signed up for Foundations of Art. The painting, drawing, sculpting, and inking were less painful than I thought and one of the neat things for me was Art History. I enjoyed understanding the background of various famous paintings and the one that stood out to me more than any other for ...more
Feb 05, 2013 Flora rated it liked it
Anthony Bailey certainly excels at description. I enjoyed reading this because of my interest in painting. The book is an excellent way to understand various Velazquez masterpieces, and they are truly masterworks.
The ending is a good summary of the Surrender of Breda with analyses of the times, the geopolitical situation and the modern treatises of the war between Spain and the Dutch.
Now, I want to take a closer look at the various paintings now residing in museums. I want to improve my pain
Mar 05, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
I liked the book especially the discussion of his paintings but could do without a lot of the story of his association with the king at the time and what jobs Velazquez had in his career at the royal court of Spain during the 1600s.
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Anthony Bailey (born 1933) is a British non-fiction writer, and art historian.

He was evacuated to Dayton, Ohio, in 1940 during World War II. For many years he was a writer for the New Yorker magazine.

He lives in Mersea Island, near Colchester, Essex, with his wife Margot. They have four daughters: Liz, Annie, Katie and Rachel.
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