Velázquez and The Surrender of Breda

The Making of a Masterpiece

Anthony Bailey

A John Macrae Book

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Behind the famous painting by Diego Velázquez lies a rich story of the artist's life in art

What began as propaganda art to celebrate a rare Spanish victory in the Eighty Years' War with Holland, The Surrender at Breda is today recognized as Velázquez's narrative masterpiece.

Breda is packed with vivid military detail—whole armies are suggested on the huge canvas, twelve feet high and eleven feet wide. Unlike typical surrender scenes, there is neither a heroic victor on horseback nor a vanquished commander on his knees. Instead the rivals appear on foot almost as equals. The loser bends forward to offer the key and receives a chivalrous pat on his shoulder, as if to say: "Fortune has favored me, but our roles might have been reversed."

Anthony Bailey examines the paintings from which the artist arose, coaxing stories from them that flesh out a complete portrait of one of the world's major artists whose personal life has remained largely unknown.

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Book Excerpts

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I. THE TURFSHIP. BREDA. 1590

The wing of a butterfly beats, we are told, and a million aftereffects later, far away, a tidal wave happens. In the chain of causation that matters here, what could be taken for a starting point was not an insect wing-beat but a spade cut, as a rectangular piece of peat was sliced from soggy ground and placed onto a barrow from which it was then loaded onto a high-sided barge, heaped up, turf upon turf, in a pile that resembled an earthen shed, hollow inside, though only a few were aware of this fact. From the riverbank, where the loading was taking place,

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Reviews

Praise for Velázquez and The Surrender of Breda

"A superb account....wonderfully written."—The New Yorker

"Filled with rich detail and lush descriptions, this book, like the painting that inspired it, is remarkable for both its scope and its intimacy."—Barnes and Noble Review

"This highly provocative, rich, and savory feast challenges readers to see great art with fresh eyes and in context."—Kirkus

"In this witty, inquisitive, and redefining portrait…Bailey brings Velázquez forward as a brilliant and complex artist navigating an exciting and dangerous world and enables us to see his ‘split-screen’ compositions as the cutting-edge creations they were nearly four centuries ago."—Booklist, Starred Review


In the Press

VELÁSQUEZ AND THE SURRENDER OF BREDA by Anthony BaileyKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of VELÁSQUEZ AND <i>THE SURRENDER OF BREDA<i> The Making of Masterpiece. A fascinating look at the paintings and history of 17th-century Spanish court painter Diego Vel&aacute;zquez, through the prism of one of his greatest masterpieces.
- Kirkus Reviews


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About the Author

Anthony Bailey

Anthony Bailey is the author of Vermeer: A View of Delft, two books on Rembrandt, the novel Major Andre, and nineteen other books. A writer for The New Yorker for a quarter century, Bailey has been called "one of the best descriptive writers of his generation" (John Russell, The New York Times).

Anthony Bailey

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Available Formats and Book Details

Velázquez and The Surrender of Breda
The Making of a Masterpiece
Anthony Bailey

Hardcover

Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co.
A John Macrae Book
November 2011
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780805088359
ISBN10: 0805088350
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 288 pages, thirty black-and-white illustrations throughout, with 1 eight page color insert
$32.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
A John Macrae Book
November 2011
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429973779
ISBN10: 1429973773
288 pages, Includes thirty black-and-white illustrations throughout, with 1 eight page color insert
$16.99
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From The Publisher

Henry Holt and Co.

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