Portrait of the court jester “El Primo”, Diego Velazquez

Description of the picture:

Portrait of the court jester “El Primo” – Diego Velazquez. Around 1644. Oil on canvas. 107×82

   Diego Velazquez is one of the greatest representatives of the Spanish Golden Age. The court painter Philip IV, in the midst of other genres, painted witty portraits. They managed to convey the psychologism of their own models and, with all this, avoided flattery even to the most powerful figures.

   During the 1630-1640s, Velazquez made a series of portraits of dwarfs and jesters. Through a ridiculous guise, the painter saw the difficult spiritual world of these people, deprived of nature. Having depicted mockery without a shadow, with simplicity and tact, he revealed their mores, spiritual condition, the world of emotions, reaching to woeful tragedy.

   The highest spotless forehead, clever eyes fascinate and force to peer into the jester’s extraordinary face. Only later, attention switches to his puny figure. Don Diego de Assedo occupied a special position in the retinue of Philip IV and, according to tradition, performed several more posts – he was a courier and keeper of the royal press. His responsibility for the royal seal is explained by the presence of the volume that he holds and the writing materials on the floor. The nickname “El Primo” means “cousin.” Maybe the midget is a relative of Velazquez, or maybe this name appeared due to the privilege of the jester not to take off his hat in the presence of the king, which was allowed only to representatives of the highest nobility, their lord called “cousins”.

   Uncompleteness gives the portrait extraordinary value: the unfinished background allows you to perfectly see the direction of the master’s brush."