Diego Velázquez’s “Old Woman Frying Eggs” is one of his earliest works, painted in 1618 when he was only 19 years old. The painting depicts an elderly woman cooking eggs in a clay pot and is a genre piece known as a “bodegónes.” The scene is set with chiaroscuro, the play of light and shade, that takes inspiration from Caravaggio’s technique.
This artwork stands out as an excellent display of Velázquez’s exceptional talent. The painting’s characters are normal people going about their daily routines in what seems to be just an ordinary kitchen. Velázquez created this genre scene months before he would move to Madrid to become court painter.
Today the art world looks back at the painting and sees both technique mastery and genius potential during the emergence of Spanish Baroque art that Diego Velazquez possesses. It brings up nostalgia for simpler times before automation, when cooking was gourmet quality despite it being fundamental cuisine.
The work is currently on display at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, where spectators can appreciate its focus on shapes, textures, and surfaces brought to life by the scene’s focused light source.