“The surrender of Brada”, Diego Velazquez – overview of the painting

“The surrender of Brada”, Diego Velazquez – overview of the painting
“The surrender of Brada”, Diego Velazquez - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Diego Velazquez
  • Museum: Prado Museum
  • Year: 1634-1635

Overview of the painting :

The surrender of Breda is Diego Velazquez. 1634-1635. Oil on canvas. 307 x 367 cm

   This is a battle canvas – one of a series of twelve paintings dedicated to the victories of the Spanish king Philip IV. Breda is a city in Holland, which was besieged by the troops of Spain, and, in the end, was forced to capitulate to the superior enemy forces.

   The picture does not depict the scene of the battle, but the moment of the transfer of the keys to the city by the governor of Breda to the commander of the Spanish army. Historically, and from the point of view of the military strategy, this siege was a rather meaningless occupation, but as a political step it brought a lot of benefits to the Spanish crown.

   “Giving Brady” is a very large multi-figure canvas made with great skill. An extensive landscape is visible in the background of the picture, as the characters in the foreground are at a higher point than the city itself. Thanks to this technique, the whole city looks like a geographical map lying under the feet of the conquerors. In some places, traces of siege are visible – smoke rising above places of fire. A large space and a deep perspective give the image a special airiness, make a rather static scene more expressive and voluminous.

   The foreground of the picture is a clear contrast between the warring parties. Spaniards are a forest of frightening peak, raised to the sky and giving the canvas a special expressiveness, some kind of cruel rhythm, the shade of a potential threat. On the “Spanish” side is the figure of a mighty, war horse – the real personification of power. This luxurious animal with a black mane and tail nest is depicted with exceptional skill, in a very difficult position for transmission – from behind and on the side. Moreover, the horse raised his back leg, striking in impatience with a hoof. This technique makes an already very realistic image even more voluminous and expressive.

   The central part of the picture is the most important point of the event. The humiliated posture of the governor and the patronage of the military leader emphasizes what is happening.

   The picture has a rich and saturated color, but completely in the spirit of the artist, without the use of screaming, too bright colors. This spectacular canvas is still impressive for its painting and image beauty.

   The picture has another name – “Spears.”. Before Velazquez, many portrayed such weapons, but only his frequent bell from long copies can be considered a real personification of the war.