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Library Journal Review
The copious official documents Brown, together with J. H. Elliott, resarched for their A Palace for a King ( LJ 10/15/80) revealed new facts about Velazquez, and became the basis for Brown's latest book. There are gaps in the artist's biography that will probably never be filled, but Brown could make some logical assumptions about the many years Velazquez lived under the patronage of Philip IV of Spain. Brown was able to establish a new chronology for some of the controversial paintings, and he has eliminated a few questionable ones from the artist's oeuvre. This is an important addition to Velazquez studies. It is also a highly readable, excellently illustrated book for laypersons who wish to learn more about this intriguing artist. Eleanor Riley, Getty Conservation Inst. Lib., Marina del Rey, Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This superb volume is the best overview of one of the major artists of the Baroque Era. Brown, who has published several books on 17th century Spanish art, e.g., Images and Ideas in 17th Century Spanish Painting (CH, Jul '79), is a recognized authority in the field. Here, he traces the development of Velazquez, eloquently evoking the artist's revolutionary approach to illusion, brushstroke, and to the personality of the sitter. In the last two decades of his life, Velazquez made surprisingly few paintings, and Brown makes an excellent case for establishing the reason for this in the painter's deep involvement in the court of Philip IV, and especially in Philip's energetic collecting of Venetian and Flemish art. Thus, Velazquez's life as an artist and his life as a courtier are profoundly interwoven and inextricable from each other. The text is carefully integrated with 325 good, large reproductions, many full page and in color; these include a number of color details, works by contemporary Spanish artists, and many of the paintings collected by Philip IV. A useful bibliographical essay, a select bibliography, very full and useful footnotes, and an appendix on specific attribution problems complete a well-written and well-produced volume, that is a model of its kind. Highly recommended.-F.W. Robinson, Rhode Island School of Design