Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Vélazquez - Las Lanzas or The Surrender of Breda

Visual charts + text,elaborate details of the painting are compared and discussed + books by Carol Sutton

Breda Painting

Diego Velazquez

born 1599

died 1660






Las Lanzas also called The Surrender of Breda

midsize-Velazquez-Las Lanzas


by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Vélazquez

The Surrender of Breda or Las Lanzas

Before 1635

Oil on canvas

10' 7/8" x 12' 1/2" (307 x 367 cm)

Museo del Prado, Madrid

valued at: "500 doubloons inventory of 1700, Goya and Bayeu assessed the canvas at 120,000 reales in 1794 inventory,Prado first official appraisal valued at 2 million reales." [Guidol, page 146]


image credit:Mark Harden's Artchive: "Artchive" at http://artchive.com/ftp_site.htm

This painting is an entire world of complex compositional elements breda_key_light.jpgthat radiate outwards and expand and change as if one were looking into a kaleidoscope. As you scan and study and seek the different areas of the picture it changes just as if you had turned the kaleidoscope, and you begin to see each unique area as its own minature world fitting perfectly within the large scheme. The whole effect of the entire work is magical.

A few of these details are shown in the boxes below.

An entire world of complex compositional elements:

OVERALL DETAILSmidsize-Velazquez-Breda

  • *Horizontal bands of color zoning the length of the picture
  • * Broad patches of shadow in the lower third of the painting that wind their way back in a "Z" path
  • *2 majors clusters of figures symmetrically placed on the left and the right of the painting.
  • Dutch on the left side.
  • Spanish on the right side
  • *Velasquez choice of moment of the surrender of the key to city, after the actual battle scene. The point of "chivalrous encounter between the victor and the vanquished"{J. Lassaigne}.
  • * mid-ground silhouettes of figures
  • *one third of the painting in light and two thirds in the dark
  • image credit:3-D Flags, on 3 backgrounds athttp://www.3dflags.com

Corner detail of a written document

note: Just under the horse foot a document is laid aside, instead the object of the key is taking the center focus.document corner mini

a painting as if in its details





A solo lance or lances plural?

Place = Breda

The large checkered flag and the field cluster of vertical lances in the upper right quarter of the painting verses the bold and singular strong diagonal single lance with pink-orange miniature flag in the foreground held by a single soldier.mini-detail-Velazquez-single soldier-breda_solo_lancemjpg

the solo diagonal lance or pike with the flag atop



The checkered flagmini-detail-Velazquez- lances and the field cluster of vertical lances in the upper right quarter of the painting

cluster of lances


An entire world of complex compositional elements:

  • Echo effect detail- a horse face unseen and then seen!
Left side cluster of figures- frontal view of horse -lower right corner of painting-face seen Velazquez-detail horse faceThis unseen face is displaced and reappears as if a face seen , but now reverse as the horse's body is mostly hidden and almost unseen. (The horse body reappears on the opposite left side of the painting and meshed into the left side cluster of figures). detail-Velazquez horse rearright side-rear view of horse -lower right corner of painting-unseen face A riderless horse viewed from the rear (on the right side of the painting and meshed into the right side cluster of figures), with a large rounded mound of rear and tail, saddle and rear of his head shown to the viewer. The only part of his body unseen is his face with white markings, in fact the entire rear view of the body is shown but the head of the horse is hidden, it looks-away, therefore is an unseen face. This unseen face is displaced and reappears as if a face seen on the horse on the left side of the painting , but now it is reverse;. ). Both horses are riderless. as its body is mostly hidden and almost unseen ). Both horses are riderless. (The whole horse body is on the opposite left side of the painting and meshed into the left side cluster of figures). clsutton
Pastel colors for the uniforms of soldiers?
Make your own visual comparisons.


here is the fact that these two light spots have completely different spatial functions. One outlines a forward facing man garbed in a light coat, and the other is an entire patch of distant perspective figures contrasted by the foreground space arm of Justin of Nassau holding out the key to the city of Breda as he gives it to Spinola.

Two jagged edge light spots in the composition hold very important and prominent importance in the picture. Both puzzle patches serve to lock in the figure of Justin.

One spot is the front sun drenched white uniform of the youthful Dutch soldier with his chest strikingly venerable, which is made even more obvious by the fact that it is completely surrounded by dark shaded figures that comfort him, one with his arm around his shoulder. This moustache- faced man who offers comfort is only partial visible, in fact only one eye is seen. A partially obstructed view. A face half hidden by the looming head of the man shown as a rear facing but side profile portrait in silhouette. A mid-ground silhouette. Here I believe Velazquez was at full play with his shadows and his light spots changing them at his will, one trading place for another. Shadow dark becomes figure light or the reverse.mini-Velazquez-2 patches-justin unaltered-breda_2patches.jpg

"All we are saying is give peace a chance."- lyrics to peace song


Even though this lightly dressed man is located in the mid-ground of the painting as he stands behind the two key figures of Justin of Nassau and Spinola, he carries 'a focal point' ability with him. His raised figure, almost says, "Look at me, I am in command here of this situation". In toto he looms as one of the most enigmatic figures in the entire Surrender of Breda. A bellwether of Dutch psyche. A crystal prism reflected thought, full of doubts, filled with feelings, his mind nerve endings jumping and his heart- strings running wild.Velazquez-detail-2 patches-justin

The other patch is a cluster of pastel colored soldiers. Radical creativity on the part of Velazquez. And pure fiction. Soldiers do not dress up in pastel colored uniforms for war. But here the lower four fifths of the bodies of the seven visible soldiers have their uniforms in pastel colors [ While the upper one-fifth are their heads, which come in line just above the black and gold armored arm of the Spanish General Spinola and are by contrast to their bodies in complete aerial perspective into a bluish distance evocative virtuosity and beauty of unfolding depth. All the heads are draw in soft brown and drab colored tones ] . To me this is one of the most radical devices Velazquez ever used. Simply brilliant thinking. What are these lines of Noland like pastel colors? Left to right, they are first pastel green, second pastel blue-green, next to that a pastel yellow, followed by pastel pink, then pastel blue {this blue figure is the most prominent and detailed of all the group}, next to the last is a pastel cream, and finally on the far right is pastel green again.

C. L. Sutton



Legrand's rare species of scarabaeus sacer* bug is a brilliant gold colour, with two jet-black spots near one end of its back and another at the other end. Master Legrand and slave Jupiter set out to find this gold coin and jewels. The treasure lies under a tulip tree. Inside this tree the scarabaeus bug must be dropped suspended on a string through the left eye of a scull or a death's head in order to find the treasure. "All dat done, Massa Will; mighty easy ting for to put de bug fru de hole- look out for him dar below!"

[*or Sullivan's Island, South Carolina insect called Callichroma splendidum or a click beetle, Alaus oculatus.]

The Gold Bug-The Tale Retold by Betinna Knapp http://www.watershed.winnipeg.mb.ca/pogbretelling.html &The Gold Bug - Introduction by The Gold Bug by Arthur Paul Patterson at:http://www.watershed.winnipeg.mb.ca/pogoldbug.html


Velazquez-key-gold bug

THE KEY ACTS AS THE GOLD BUG OF THE PICTURE. The core of the story. A seminal image at the core of the work. The link that binds all the surrounding parts together. The key hangs with a string attached in Velazquez's painting; just as did the gold scarabaeus beetle bug which hung from a string in the Poe masterpiece novel. The open spot of space, the hollow central core of the often used Velasquez device, acts in a similar way to the hole made by the left eye socket of the scull. One could go so far to say that the 2 light patches mini-Velazquez-2 patches-justin unaltered-breda_2patches.jpgare the eye holes of an invisible scull.

Contrast detail of 2 large soldier foreground figures
green colored coat man wears a black hatVelazquez-green/yellow soldier detail
  • the dominate light shines on the back facing soldier with the light brown ­orche colored coat ; next to the patch of green-blue contrasting color of the adjacent soldier who is set back and darker.
orche colored coatVelazquez-green/yellow soldier detail soldier wears no hat
A related book -Spanish Painting- from Velazquez to Picasso ,Text by Jacques Lassaigne, Translated by Stuart Gilbert
Published by: SKIRA, ,by Editions Albert Skira, Geneva (Switzerland)
© 1952
Pages 51,52

A related book -Velazquez- Painter and Courtier, by Jonathan Brown
Published by: Yale University Press: New Haven and London
© 1986
ISBN 0-300-03466-0
Notes: This book has a superb chapter on the fact that The Surrender of Breda by Velazquez is only one of a group of 12 war paintings made for a particular site. In what I call the buck-shot theory, those in charge of the hiring for the commission didn't have any clear idea of who was any good as an artist so Velazquez only got to do one of the paintings, the other eleven were done by those artists who were politcally correct to chose at the time, all of which are largely unknown of today with the exception of Josepa Riebera.

A related book -The Complete Paintings of Velazquez- 1599-1660 ,by Jose Gudiol
Published by: Greenwich House, distributed by Crown Publishers, Inc., New York
© 1983
First published by The Viking Press
ISBN 0-517-405008
A related book -Velazquez, Goya, The Dehumanization of Art and other essays
By Ortega y Gasset
Translated by Alexis Brown, Introduction by Philip Troutman
Published by: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York
© 1972
First published by The Viking Press
ISBN 393-04358-4

A related book - Examining Velazquez
by Gridley McKim-Smith, Greta Andersen-Bergdoll, Richard Newman with technical photography by Andrew Davidhazy,
Published by: Yale University Press, New Haven and London
ISBN 0-300-03615-9
A related paper folded catalog - -Prado Museum- Velazquez
Paper Catalog Guide Handout
© 1986
Room XII. Velázquez
The Surrender of Breda
No. 1172- date painted 1634 to 1635, Catalog # 76 Prado
A related magazine article - -Power and flesh
by Janet Hobhouse
© 1986
Artnews Magazine, page 112
November 1989,Volume 88, number 9
A related book -Absorption and Theatricality - Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot
by Michael Fried
Published by: University of California Press Berkeley 94720
ISBN 0--520-03758-8
A related book -Rembrandt's Eyes
by Simon Schama
ISBN 0=679-30955-I
A related book -The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe
first published in 1843 in serial form within magazines
ISBN 0=679-30955-I

Related or internet sites -Mark Harden's Artchive: "Artchive", A superb source for images of paintings
at http://artchive.com/ftp_site.htm

Related or internet sites -Las Meninas Storyboard part 1,2,3,4.by Chris Christina Vasilakis, Research/Publications include: 'Studying Fine Art: "Las Meninas" by Velazquez' at http://www.evl.uic.edu/chris/research.html.
QUOTE: "Let us not forget the astrological beliefs of Velazquez, in a court and a society more superstitious than fanatical.
After Velazquez' death, five telescopes were found in his chamber, and we are told he had access to a tower for observing the heavens. The question remains ... is there a horoscope hidden in 'Las Meninas'? " end quote from Part 1 .
& from Part 4,
QUOTE: "The library of Velasquez had 14 books of astronomy, cosmography, and astrology. There are other evidences that he liked to study the heavens. After his death five telescopes were found and he had frequent access to a tower from which he could study the skies. Some typical stars you could see from the tower are Ursa Major, the great bear." end quote from page- http://www.evl.uic.edu/chris/meninas/storyb4.html
+ NEW - Information on the-

Contents of Velazquez's own library inventory just after his death on

Friday, August 6, 1660 at the age of sixty-one years. Velazquez's funeral was the next day, Saturday, August 7, 1660. Three days after that on August 11, 1660, Velazquez's executors, his son-n-law the painter Maso, his friend Gaspar de Fuensalida, and Francisoc de Rojas, a newly appointed 'aposentador' made an inventory of his atelier and their apartments in the Casa del Tesoro. "Juana Pacheco, died, following her husband to the grave by a mere eight days", which would have been August 15, 1660. Velazquez and wife had no will {Gudiol} 1 Inventory taken at death -174 books ... {dates and information from Jonathan Brown, page 265.}

+ see my own page: Diego de Silva y Velázquez de la Camera di S. Mta. Cattca. ... cont: 28 tapestries, 44 pictures, curtains,carpets, jewels, Will: aft Sep 1660, Velazquez and wife had no will {Gudiol} 1 Inventory taken at death -174 books ... at
Any readers out there who actually have a list of the 174 books
in the household inventory after the time of death of Velazquez and his wife just 8 days later, please email me. (See lead page for
my email. )Would you know of anywhere where I could find the list of the books he had in his study when Velazquez died?"
I found reference to within the above book, 'The Complete Paintings of Velazquez- 1599-1660' by Jose Gudiol on page 318, to what was in Velezquez's own library.
" The inventory of the private property of Velazquez and his wife was drawn up by the witnesses to the foregoing document, both of whom had been appointed executors, between the 11th and the 29th of the same month (August 1660 - I think) . this is a document of great importance, which was published , with commentaries, by Sanchez Canton in the " Archivo Espanol de Arte" in 1942. From his article I have taken the following description of the painter's home." end quote ----but does not list the books, says the abode reveals that Velazquez lived in a spacious well furnished home with an excellent library, 28 tapestries, 44 pictures, curtains and carpets, and goes on to list the works painted by Velasquez, but not his books.  Anyway it appears that Professor Francisco Javier Sanchez Canton was also the Director of the Prado Museum. I did read that there was only one book of verse, but many books devoted to the study of - mathematics, geometry, geography, mechanics, anatomy and architecture, art, art theory, mythographic treatises.
{Also author Jonathan Brown, in his book, 'Velazquez', in his selected bibliography lists this:
page 314- :"La libreria de Velazquez ," in Homenaje a Menéndez Pidal, III, Madrid, 1925, pp 379-406 }
By the way I also read that Velazquez' widow , Juana Pacheco, died, following her husband to the grave by a mere eight days." J. Brown, page 265, [note #7 by Varia Valasquena ]

Velazquez and mathematics, geometry - Descartes.
Did Velazquez know of Descartes or have his book in his library?, I do not know the answer to this question. But have found out this information.
Ortega y Gasset 'Velazquez, Goya- The Dehumnization of Art and other essays'. These three are the only pages, pages 87 and 103, and 104, that had anything to do with Descartes in this book:
Quote from page 87, Introduction to Velazquez 1943, Part I, and later pick up the thought of Descartes link to Velazquez on page 103.
First on page 87, there is writing about Velazquez's trip to Italy, sailing by embarking from Barcelona, Spain on 10 August, 1629 , with Genoa as his destination. "On the same voyage sailed Ambrosio de Spinola, the victor of Breda":
" 1629-1649 -Genoa, Milan, Venice, then down trough Bologna. He (Velazquez) visits Loreto, where three years previously Descartes had been, in fulfillment of a promise made to the Virgin for having received the inspiration of analytical geometry. " Finally, Rome and Naples, in which city he makes the acquaintance of Jusepe Ribera, the Spanish painter.
Then skip to page 103 and page 104,
Ortega y Gasset "Now it will be understood why earlier I thought it appropriate to record that Descartes belongs to exactly the same generation as Velazquez. The disciplines in which the two were engaged could not have been further apart - they are almost the tow opposite poles of culture. Nevertheless, I find an exemplary parallelism between these two men. Descartes, too, in his profound solitude, turned against the intellectual principles still in force in his time; that is to say, against all tradition - as much against the scholars as against the Greeks. To him also the traditional method of exercising thought was hieratic formalism, based on blind conventions, and incapable of integrating itself in the actual life of each man. It is essential that the individual construct for himself a system of convictions wrought with the evidence produced in his personal nature. For this it is necessary to purge thought of all that is not a pure relation of ideas, ridding it of all the legends with which the senses overlay the truth. In this manner thought is brought to itself and converted into raison. Finally, we must not forget that Descartes was the initiator of the grand prose style which was to be employed in Europe from 1650 to the Romantic epoch. " end quote. page 104 from Ortega y Gasset -'Velazquez, Goya- The Dehumnization of Art and other essays'.
Velazquez, Diego
The Surrender of Breda or Las Lanzas
Before 1635
Oil on canvas
10' 7/8" x 12' 1/2" (307 x 367 cm)
Museo del Prado, Madrid












Only 75 painters lived in Madrid in 1625, in a town of 150,000 inhabitants. [Jonathan Brown,p. 105}

War timeline!

Time = end of a year long seige, June 2,1625

Place = Breda , the Dutch Netherlands





Which countries?

Spainand Burgundian troops

Dutch Netherlands


Velazquez was a very slow painter "Velazquez has long ben regarded as one of the least productive painters ofhis period."

Total 120 to 125.

diveded by 40 years equals 3 each year. or "2 per annum during his last 20 years."

[J. Brown, page 169]


read more dwarfs?

34 dwarfs party in Rome-

"The Oriental practice of keeping dwarfs existed in Europe until the advent of the French Revolution, which put a stop to it. Royal and princely courts combed Europe for these stunted creatures, who were brought up as rarities and curiosities, clad in gorgeous costumes, hung with gold and jewels, and exhibited on social of festive occasions. Even ecclesiastical dignitaries succumbed to the vogue, and Cardinal Vitelli once gave a banquet in Rome at which the guest were served by thirty-four dwarfs selected for their hideous aspect. Their masters treated them more like monkeys or dogs than human beings."and "Velazquez himself belonged to their category. At the bullfight in the Plaza Mayor he sat in the fourth tier with the barbers and lackeys of the nobility."(p.54)

quote from page 53, of Spansish Painting

by Gotthard Jedlicka.

A Studio Book, the Viking Press, New York©1964,

L of CCCN: 64-11433.

Diego's court pay was only slightly higher than the dwarfs, some of which had their own servants.

What - 2 versions of Los Meninas?Las Meninas, Prado, Madrid, Spain, size larger, (3,18 x 2,76m)

Las dos Meninas de Velazquez- read about a 2nd version of Los Meninas, one in the Prado and one in Kingston

Tras 15 años de estudio, Matías Díaz Padrón conservador jefe del Museo del Prado, ha llegado a la conclusión que Velázquez pintó dos retratos de "las Meninas".

slightly smaller in size, (1,42 x 1,22m) Las Menians ofKingston House, Dorset, England



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Made August, 2000- Updated on March 18 2005, June 10, 2006, image repair, September 3, 2007, breda images link change, June 13, 2009

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