Ram, 6.75 x 7 Graphite & Watercolor on paper
I mentioned in a previous post that I was working on a couple of Big Horn Sheep for a patron who gets to see these guys on her lawn. I’ve finished the pair, and will be framing them next week. They look like good buds – the sort that hang around, snickering & bumping each other over corny jokes, and wagging their eye brows at pretty sheep on the hill.
Oh, what a pity you are not here; what pleasure it would have given you to see Velazquez, who alone is worth the whole journey. The painters of every school who surround him in the Madrid Museum, and who are very well represented, all seem second rate in comparison to him. He is the painter to beat all painters. He didn’t astonish me, he enchanted me. The full-length portrait in the Louvre is not by him, only the authenticity of the Infanta cannot be doubted. There is an enormous picture here, filled with small figures like those in The Cavaliers in the Louvre, but the figures of the women and men in this one are perhaps better, and all of them are perfectly free of retouching. The background – the landscape – is by a pupil of Velazquez.
The most astonishing work in this splendid collection, and perhaps the most astonishing piece of painting that has ever been done, is the one entitled in the catalogue Portrait of a Celebrated Actor in the Time of Philip IV. The background fades into nothing; the old boy all in black, so olive, seems to be surrounded by air. And, ah, The Spinners; and the beautiful portrait of Alonzo Cano; and Las Meninas – another extraordinary picture! The philosophers – what astonishing works! And all the dwarfs too! – one in particular, seated full face with his hands on his hips; a painting for the real connoisseur. And his magnificent portraits! – one would have to include the lot; they are all masterpieces.
~Edouard Manet – in a letter to Fantin-Latour – while in Madrid in 1865, where he went to change his “ideas” after getting attacked by the critics when he exhibited Olympia at the Salon earlier that year.