Friday, February 12, 2016

The Capitulation of Breda

Title: La rendición de Breda (The Surrender of Breda)
Artist: Diego Velázquez
Date: 1634-1635

On display from the Museo del Prado is Diego Velazquez's The Surrender of Breda (1634-1635). Velazquez, under commission for King Philip IV, commemorates the capture of Breda during the Eighty Years' War. Depicted is the Spanish general Spinola takes the keys to the city from the defeated Dutch general. Velazquez paints the Dutch general as bowing to Spinola, which highlights the victory of Spain. However many art historians believe that the Dutch do not look as though they have been painfully defeated. The Dutch are depicted as looking more well rested and healthy than the Spanish soldiers. The Dutch general may even wear a condescending expression as he may know one day the Dutch will take back the city of Breda, which was recaptured in 1637. Velazquez paid certain attention to the Spanish lances as he later went back and made the lances much taller than the Dutch's lances, which is why the Surrender of Breda is also known as The Lances. On the left, the Spanish army is depicted with longer and straighter lances which is to highlight the greater power and strength of the Spanish army. Even though the lances are a symbol for Spain's military prowess, the cordiality between Spinola and the Dutch general is meant to paint Spain in a good light. The Surrender of Breda shows Spain as capable of respect and forgiveness of those of whom they have defeated. Once again, Spain's military power has allowed Spain to capture new lands and rule over new people. However, sometimes Spain's power was not always enough. As the Dutch took back the city of Breda in 1637, the Spanish effort during the Eighty Years' War was wasted. In order to gain more power throughout Europe, occasionally Spain made wrong decisions that led to their own defeat. 

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