Velázquez and the family of Felipe IV represents an unmissable experience of art in all its aesthetic beauty. After visiting the Chapman retrospective, I was deeply thankful for such visual delicacy. The exhibition is small, consisting of 15 paintings by Velázquez during the last 11 years of his life. It was precisely during this time that he decided to specialise in portraits. The rest of the exhibition contains a selection of paintings by his successors Juan Bautista Martínez de Mazo and Juan Carreño. It's a pity that Mazo's paintings, which are copies of Velázquez's ones, are displayed next to those of the great master, as although they are of a high standard in their own right, they inevitably pale in comparison to the original.
From the first room of the exhibition I would particularly recommend the sheer strength of the portrait of Pope Inocencio X, painted during his second and final visit to Italy. This is smaller in size than the first one he painted, - the latter being one of the painter's masterpieces - but still retains all the expressive intensity of the previous one.
The other portraits are of Felipe IV, his wife Mariana of Austria - whom he had recently married - and his sons. His use of colour is extraordinary, considering how limited his palette was. His meticulous pictorial technique, visible in suits, curtains and decorative elements, is extremely precise, creating a wonderful sense of realism and beauty. But what really stood out for me was how he handles his characters' eyes and stares, giving each character a life and personality of their own - this is what most differentiated the copies of his successors from his own.