Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV and of the Spanish Golden Age. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period. He began to paint in a precise tenebrist style, later developing a freer manner characterized by bold brushwork. In addition to numerous renditions of scenes of historical and cultural significance, he painted scores of portraits of the Spanish royal family and commoners, culminating in his masterpiece Las Meninas (1656).
Velázquez's artwork became a model for 19th century realist and impressionist painters. In the 20th century, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon paid tribute to Velázquez by re-interpreting some of his most iconic images.