His early training was under Francisco de Herrera and Francisco Pacheco. He was top of his class and eventually married Pacheco's daughter. He started his art career doing genre paintings, with a style influenced by baroque artist Caravaggio.
Velázquez was born to a lower class of nobility in 1599, in Seville, Spain.
In 1622, he went to Madrid, and eventually became the court painter for King Philip IV after the king's chief advisor, the Count of Olivares, recommended him. Velázquez spent the remainder of his career as court painter. He became an important member of the king's court. 5 years after his arrival, he became Usher of the Chambers, and later became a courtier, who traveled with the king.
met Italian painter and diplomat Peter Paul Rubens
when Rubens arrived in Spain on a diplomatic mission. Rubens convinced Velázquez
to go to Italy, and since then, had made numerous trips, allowing him to expand
his subjects beyond those of the royal family.
1650, his painting of Pope Innocent X earned him an invitation to join the
Order of Santiago, and he later became a knight of the order. He died of
malaria in Spain ten years later.
Contribution to Portraits and Figures:
In his genre art, he used extreme lights and darks to give a realistic look to religious figures