Aesop (c. 1639-40) by Diego Velazquez

Aesop - Diego Velazquez - 1639 - 1640

Artwork Information

ArtistDiego Velazquez
Date1639 - 1640
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions93 x 180 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationMuseo del Prado, Madrid

About Aesop

The artwork titled “Aesop” is a creation of the esteemed artist Diego Velazquez, painted between the years 1639 and 1640. This Baroque oil on canvas measures 93 by 180 centimeters and is classified as a portrait. This piece forms part of the distinguished collection at the Museo del Prado located in Madrid.

The artwork portrays Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller and fabulist, in a full-length portrait. He is depicted as a man wearing a loose, draped garment with a prominent earthy color palette that suggests a humble appearance. His facial expression is contemplative and seemingly reflective of the wisdom associated with his fabled character. Velazquez has rendered Aesop’s features with a stark realism typical of his work during the Baroque period, emphasizing textures and the interplay of light and shadow. The figure’s stance is relaxed yet commanding, gesturing slightly with one hand as though midway through a narrative.

Notable is the use of chiaroscuro, a technique characteristic of the Baroque movement, that highlights the volume and mass of Aesop’s form, creating a dynamic contrast between the subject and the dark, undefined background. The inscription “AESOPVS” in the upper right corner cements the identity of the portrayed figure, linking the portrait to the historical and cultural significance of the fabled storyteller. The subtle details and psychological depth captured in the artwork attest to Velazquez’s mastery as a portraitist and his profound impact on Western art.

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