Unless you are planning a stay in Madrid in the next few months, you must pay a visit to the Grand Palais for the exhibition of Diego Velàzquez, a major event of the Parisian cultural scene 2015.
Why is it so important? To begin with, it is the first solo exhibition in France of the most famous painter of the Spanish golden age, a true genius of art history (1599- 1660). Further, the breadth of the exhibition is exceptional. The exhibition’s curator, Guillaume Kientz, has achieved the feat of bringing together half of all the painter’s works (around a hundred for 43 years of career), including, notably, works from the Prado in Madrid.
So you will discover several masterpieces at the Grand Palais. Our favorites: the impressive Portrait of Pope Innocent X, with his piercing eyes or The Toilet of Venus, a rare nude echoing the Roman sculpture and judiciously exposed next to the Sleeping Hermaphrodite. Only one masterpiece is missing: Las Meninas, or The Family of Felipe IV, a monument that is never moved. However a copy is on display to avoid too much frustration.
Despite the crowds, it is certainly a great joy to admire the full panoply of the works of the artist that Edouard Manet described as “the painter’s painter”. Starting from his apprenticeship in Seville, to his early career at the Madrid Court and a glimpse of his voyages to Italy, you are shown every facet of this ambitious painter and precursor to modern painting. His portraits of course but also “scenes de genre” or religious painting.
We take account of his significant influences, in particular, his discovery of caravaggism which transcends his painting. We marvel at his creativity and his fundamental contribution to modern art. With The Portrait of Pablo de Valladolid, Velàzquez began a new art of portrait. The set disappears: no wall, no floor. Only the shadows produce perspective.
A great moment in history and pictorial pleasure not to be missed for any reason. As Francis Bacon said, “Velazquez found the perfect balance between the ideal illustration, which he was required to produce, and the overwhelming emotion he aroused in the spectator”.
Plan your visit
This exhibition is of course very busy. Buy an online ticket (at least the day before) if you do not want to queue for long.
Plan a visit with a guide if you can. If you do not have enough time, you should experience “connected glasses” a new digital experience (be careful: you must not wear glasses)
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
3 avenue du Général Eisenhower – Paris 8
Until the 13th of July 2015
Wednesday – Saturday, 10.00 a.m. -10.00 p.m.
Sunday – Monday, 10.00 a.m. – 8.00 p.m.