Diego Velazquez - the Breakfast

The Spanish painter Diego Velazquez was born and raised in Seville. His first works - among them the Breakfast on display in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia - were painted in this city.

Spanish art had long been constrained by the scope of religious subjects. At the turn of the XVI and XVII centuries, ordinary people for the first time become focus of paintings. There is a growing so-called bodegones (in Spanish - restaurant, pub) style - depicting scenes in the dark interior, lit only by a narrow directional beam of light with a single or a few figures, and presence of still-life is a must. In the work of Velazquez Sevillian period of this genre took the lead.


The Breakfast is one of the earliest works of the young master. It exudes passion, the desire to convey the scene. Velazquez painted same people in different settings, their images are found in many works of the artist. So, the old man on the left is repeated in a similar form in a painting on display at the Budapest Museum. The boy at the center of the painting can also be seen in The Musician (Berlin-Dahlem), in the Cooking Eggs (Richmond Cook Museum) and Water Seller of Seville (London, a collection of Wellington). As for the figure on the right, there is an assumption that it is a self-portrait by Velazquez. Despite the desire of the artist to make a casual scene, the characters look posing. There is not the freedom of artistry of performance that are inherent in the works of Velazquez of his mature period.

With great care was carried out in a still-life. The artist tries to reproduce the texture of things. He admires the game in a glass of wine, red flesh and brown skin of pomegranate. Carried away by the transfer volumes, Velasquez put the knife on the edge of the table, as if he did not fit into the limits of the picture, "tearing" of its plane. In this part you can see the naive admiration for the young artist's boundless possibilities of painting. "Breakfast" - one of those jobs that can not only help to understand the origins of independent and in a special fresh creative artist, but also of interest for a common understanding of the history of Spanish art in one of the crucial and most important of its stages, in the period of realism XVII century.

This Velazquez painting belongs to the earliest acquisitions of the Hermitage, it was acquired before 1772.

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