“By age 30, Édouard Manet had gained recognition at the state-sponsored Salon exhibition in Paris and established himself as the artist to watch, creating new imagery for contemporary works that translated Old Master painting into a modern idiom. Here he looked to the 17th-century Baroque artist Diego Velázquez, whose two paintings of world-weary philosophers (Aesop and Menippus, both c. 1638) Manet had admired that year at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. Like Velázquez’s representation of the ancient stoics (whose poverty is associated with wisdom), Manet’s beggar-philosophers fit into the popular notion of the social outcast as a seer possessing rare insight.”

Diego Velázquez

1. Aesop, c. 1638. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

2. Menippus, c. 1638. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Édouard Manet

3. Beggar with a Duffle Coat (Philosopher), 1865-67. The Art Institute of Chicago.

4. Beggar with Oysters (Philosopher), 1865-67. The Art Institute of Chicago.

5. The Absinthe Drinker, 1859. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

6. The Ragpicker, c. 1865-1870. Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena.

Source: Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting’, p. 236.


Diego Velázquez

Old Woman Cooking Eggs, 1618

National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Velázquez was eighteen or nineteen when he painted this remarkable picture. It clearly demonstrates his flair for painting people and everyday objects directly from life. His fascination with contrasting materials and textures and the play of light and shadow on opaque and reflective surfaces resulted in brilliant passages of painting, especially the eggs cooking in hot oil and the varied domestic utensils. At the start of his career Velázquez painted a number of these kitchen or tavern scenes, called ‘bodegones’ in Spanish. (+)


Tapestries and oil sketches by Peter Paul Rubens, made nearly 400 years ago to celebrate the glory of the Roman Catholic Church, have arrived. Each tapestry weighs 150 to 200 pounds and was hoisted into place with 100 yards of pulley rope.

More behind the scenes + video »

The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, 1626–33, woven by Jan Raes I, Hans Vervoert, and Jacob Fobert after designs by Peter Paul Rubens. Wool and silk, 192 15/16 x 236 ¼ in. Patrimonio Nacional, Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, Madrid. Tapestry Copyright © PATRIMONIO NACIONAL

Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Casilda, c. 1630-35

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain

“Daughter of an Arab king, Casilda was martyred in 1087. She had left the Islamic faith and converted to Christianity, taking food to her father’s Christian prisoners. Surprised by her father during one of these risky visits, a miracle occurred and the food hidden about her body was transformed into roses, the traditional attribute of this saint.”