Juana Pacheco Diego Velazquez Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Female Figure and Juana Pacheco are two distinctly similar portraits from Spanish painter, Diego Velazquez. He was a true master of this genre and received regular commissions from the Spanish royal family of the 17th century.

The young lady is beautifully presented, with carefully styled hair and a small band that holds the look together. There is a brown shawl along with a black garment which is revealed around her neck area. She also wears a pearl necklace, though no other jewellery as far as we can tell. She holds a brown object within her left hand, whilst her right hand is completely covered beneath her clothing. The light is aimed directly around her face, contrasting against her dark hair. The background is again plain, just as how Velazquez would plan most of his portraits. In many cases he would purposely hang cloth across the back in order to neutralise any detail that might otherwise have distracted our attention from what the artist intended to be the key focal points of each work.

Juana Pacheco was actually the artist's wife, and they married in 1618, with this portrait painting coming along in around 1630-31. She would serve as his muse on a number of occasions, for both paintings and drawings and certainly had the right look for this task. She was a beautiful young woman who also offered a close bond to the artist which makes these portraits all the more intriguing. This piece may have been a labour of love, perhaps a gift to his doting wife as normally he would only take on work for large payments. This artwork therefore reflects inwards, covering the most important person in his life. The clothing that she wears suggests that the couple were leading a comfortable life thanks to the success that he had already achieved. He may also have spent some time planning this painting, eager to show his much loved wife in the best light possible.

Head to the Prado Museum in Madrid in order to enjoy the best collection of Velazquez paintings anywhere in the world, under one roof. Las Meninas is the iconic image which spearheads this artist's oeuvre, and features a group of portraits together, including a self portrait of the man himself. Alongside around sixty other artworks stored here from this painter, you will also find the artwork of Juana Pacheco there as well. This piece also has the additional benefit of visually explaining elements of the artist's life, just as his other portraits have helped to bring members of the Spanish Royal Family to life. Velazquez ranks as one of the most gifted portrait painters in history, and his place in Spanish art history is entirely secure.