“Surrender of Delirium”, Diego Velazquez – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Surrender of Breda – Diego Velazquez. 1634-1635. Canvas, oil. Three hundred seven x three hundred sixty seven cm

   This battle canvas is one of a series of 12 paintings dedicated to the victories of the Spanish king Philip IV. Absurdity is a city in Holland, which was besieged by Spanish troops, and, in the end, was obliged to surrender to superior enemy forces.

   The picture does not depict a battle scene, but the moment of handing over the keys to the town by the governor of Breda to the commander of the Spanish army. Historically, and based on the convictions of military strategy, this siege was a rather stupid occupation, but as a political step, it brought a lot of benefits to the Spanish crown.

   “Surrender of Breda” is a very huge multi-figure canvas, made with great skill. A wide landscape is shown in the background of the picture, because the characters on the frontal plane are at a higher point than the city itself. Thanks to this technique, the whole city looks as if a geographical map lying under the feet of the conquerors. Somewhere traces of a siege are shown – smoke rising above the conflagration. A huge place and the deepest perspective give the image an extraordinary airiness, make a rather static scene more expressive and large.

   The frontal plan of the picture is an exact contrast of the warring parties. The Spaniards are a forest of terrifying peaks, raised to the sky and giving the canvas an extraordinary expressiveness, a kind of fierce rhythm, color of possible danger. On the “Spanish” side there is a figure of a powerful, fighting stallion – a real personification of power. This gorgeous animal of bay color with a dark mane and tail is depicted with exceptional craftsmanship, in a very difficult position to transmit – behind and on the side. Not enough, the stallion raised its hind leg, hitting impatiently with a hoof. This technique makes an already very close to reality image even more large and expressive.

   The central part of the picture is a more fundamental moment of action. The humiliated position of the governor and the patronizing of the commander emphasizes what is happening.

   The painting has a rich and rich color, but in the spirit of the artist, without the use of flashy, very bright colors. This spectacular canvas still impresses with its mastery of painting and the beauty of the image.

   The picture has another title – “Spears”. Before Velazquez, many depicted such a weapon, but only its palisade of long spears can be considered a real personification of the war."