Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (June 6, 1599 – August 6, 1660), commonly referred to as Diego Velázquez, was a Spanish painter, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary baroque period, important as a portrait artist. He lived in Italy for a year and a half from 1629 to 1631 with the purpose of traveling and studying works of art. In 1649 he traveled to Italy again. In addition to numerous renditions of scenes of historical and cultural significance, he created scores of portraits of the Spanish royal family, other notable European figures, and commoners, culminating in the production of his masterpiece, Las Meninas (1656).
From the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Velázquez's artwork was a model for the realist and impressionist painters, in particular Édouard Manet. Since that time, more modern artists, including Spain's Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, have paid tribute to Velázquez by recreating several of his most famous works.
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