Velazquez and the Surrender of Breda: The Making of a Masterpiece
Diego Velazquez is perhaps best known for his rendering of one of the few Spanish victories during the long war with the Netherlands; the image of the governor of Breda handing the key to the city to the conquering general Spinola is unique in that it evokes thoughts more of reconciliation than of battle. The complex story behind this painting, and its creator, is the heart of this book. Far more than a biography of a man or a description of a single painting, however, Bailey brings to life the entire world of the early 17th century. Written in conversational, rather than didactic, style, this volume illuminates the interrelationships between people, countries, politics, and religion during the Spanish Golden Age. Of Velazquez himself, surprisingly little is known, so Bailey fills those gaps with information gleaned from other figures of the time, about whom more documentation survives. The result is a delightful collage that reads as part travelogue, part art history, part expose of the machinations of European governments. Thirty of Velazquez’s works are reprinted as black and white illustrations, and the book includes an eight-page color insert (unseen by reviewer).