AT THIRTEEN THE young Velasquez was a pupil of the Spanish painter and fanatical tyrant, Francisco Herrera the elder. Surviving this, he went a year later to study under the polished and scholarly Francisco Pacheco. Here, privileged no doubt to mingle with the nobles and intellectuals who frequented Pacheco's house, he remained for five years, winning from his master the first recognition of an original and personal talent. Probably less through instruction than by natural tendency Velasquez was a realist, his conviction that art must follow nature deepening as his life advanced. The apparent similarity of Velasquez's manner of painting to that of his slightly older contemporary, Ribera, has led some authorities to term imitation what was in fact a spiritual likeness between the two. Velasquez, a great master of realism, came to have a profound influence on European art of the succeeding centuries.
In 1618 Velasquez married his master's daughter, Juana; and four years later, being already the father of two daughters, the family accompanied by Pacheco himself journeyed to Madrid. Here but for two journeys to Italy he was to spend his life. Under the royal patronage and favor he rose to that high rank of Grand Marshal of the Palace which, through the obligations and restraints that it imposed, was to curtail the painter's output at the very height of his powers. It was in the fatiguing performance of his distinguished official duties that he died.