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Velazquez: The Technique of Genius Paperback – September 1, 2003
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The purpose of this book is to apply the tools of art history and conservation to the practical question of how Velasquez painted his masterpieces. This is a topic of primary interest to practicing painters, and it is an approach that may prove fruitful in the future, but I think is only moderately successful here.
The important contribution of this book is the large number of close up views of a small number of paintings. The image quality is good, though not of the highest quality.
The text and analysis does address the practical question of how the paintings were constructed, but only provides rather shallow results. The ground used, the pigment selection, additions to the canvas - these topics are well covered. But the more involved question of how the paint layers were developed was not really explained. In the end there is little information for someone seeking to understand precisely how these paintings were made.
As the first reviewer mentioned, the art historical background has a sort of "rah rah" quality. For example, referring to The Fable of Arachne: "The expressive potential of color posited in the works of Titian is here [by Velasquez] exploited in ways that this venerated old master could never have conceived."
How many stars should you give to the only book on this very important topic? If you are a painter you have to buy it. I give it three stars, and will keep the book for the illustrations.
All this could have been forgiven if not for the inconsistent and sometimes Horrendous image quality of the paintings - in particular the closeups - a fact that no one else seems to have picked up on. In "The Forge of Vulcan", you will see that the colors of the same painting are significantly different in each and every closeup. While in another, "Feast of Bacchus", the detail photo of Bacchus' face is totally overexposed. There are even some blurry photos which were inexplicably never taken out of the book (having a competent photographer for this book would have made all the difference). I was also disappointed to find that two of my favorite Velazquez paintings, "Innocent X" and "Juan de Pareja" - two of the finest portraits ever done - were not in this volume. Kind of a bummer since this is my only book on the painter.
I guess this book isn't THAT bad - just not as good as the other reviews would have you believe. In all honestly, I read this book right after reading Ernst van de Wetering's excellent 'Rembrandt: Painter at work' and I was hoping for more of the same. If not for the poor quality of some of the closeups I might have given it another star, as it is I'm still on the lookout for a good book on Velazquez.
The only complaint is that the book has not a solid construction, at the very first reads groups of pages threatened to separate from the spine
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great historical and technical information about the works of Velázquez. The authors made a timely and objective analysis, based on scientific information showing what can... Read morePublished on December 9, 2010 by Saul F. O. Carvalho
This book made me love Velasquez. The true quality of his work can not me appreciated from afar. The close-ups, as other reviews state, make the book. Read morePublished on April 27, 2010 by ASW
The book arrived perfectly packed and before the scheduled time of delivery. I am very pleased with the purchase and impressed by the shipping. Thanks so much!Published on May 31, 2009 by Sonsoles Shack
As other reviewers have mentioned, this book has many wonderful reproductions, including a lot of "extreme close-ups" (if you'll allow me to lift an expression from the movie... Read morePublished on February 5, 2003 by Bruce Loveitt
This very fine book on the painter Velazquez is full of historical details, details of the master's painting techniques, and many photographic details of his masterpieces. Read morePublished on July 16, 2001 by Eulalie