Diego Velazquez. (1599 – 1660). The Waterseller of Seville. El Aguador. (1623). Oil on Canvas. 41 in × 31 in.
This major painting of the artist and does not have an equivalent in the work of Velasquez. Moreover it illustrates the importance of the details in painting to be able to explain an allegory.
At the 10 years age Diego Velazquez enters to the workshop of Francisco de Herrera the old in Seville. Then until 1617 he works with Francisco Pacheco. Although often regarded as a painter without scale and banal Pacheco can express a very direct realism. The pupil quickly exceeds the Master and in 1617 Diego Velasquez is received Master. In 1618 he marries the girl of Pacheco and opens his workshop in 1820. In Seville, the Water carrier or Aguador (commercial of water) was a useful character of the daily life. At that time of course there is no running water. The genres scenes without religious or mythological connotations are rare in the work of Velasquez, celebrates especially for its portraits. The treatment of the light to the manner of Caravage (1571 - 1610) makes it possible to the painter to oppose in his composition the crystal of glass to the sandstone of the earthenware jar to the foreground but also the smooth skin of the young boy and the wrinkled face of the water carrier, much older. In the center and the background there is an adult drinking. Thus as the painting is a succession of 3 portraits at 3 ages different from the life much of commentators see in work an allegory of the life and time which passes. We will see that the allegory is very thorough and that it is carried out on several levels. But especially the painting is build on the large downward diagonal, clothing of the water carrier are perforated and in sorry state, the pallet of the colours is especially made up of tons which go from gilded the orange one to chestnut. They are the characteristics of works of another painter of Seville. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682). Technically this painting is the proof of the influence of Diego Velasquez on Murillo. When 25 years later Murillo will put at painter the children streets of Seville it is this painting which inspires it.
Except for a thing, the children of Murillo, poor wretches, in rag, always have the smile, here not. The characters are serious and melancholic persons. When water runs out the life also runs out it, time passes and leaves its marks, on the walls of the earthenware jar, clothing of the water carrier torn and on its wrinkled face. In front of the revelation of the image of his body forfeiture the man does not laugh.
The point of view of the spectator is between the 2 faces of the foreground.
The glance can either go up towards the face of the water carrier or to go down towards glass from water.
The face of the young boy is on the natural point of interest left superior.
The Earthenware jar and the hands of the characters are on the natural points of interest Inferiors.
The painting can be read on several level.
In top 3 ages of the life. 1/ the child. 2/ the adult. 3/ the old man.
On the left, the smooth wall of the jug returns to the transparency of glass then to the smooth skin of the child. On the right, the furrows on the walls of the earthenware jar are taken again by the folds of clothing and the wrinkles of the face.
The painting is built on the 2 large diagonals which are downward.
A great majority of the guiding lines plunge downwards.
The glances of the water carrier and the young boy fall to the bottom and the glance of the spectator follows the same direction.
A current interpretation declares that water glass would be the cut of knowledge that the old man would tend to the young boy. In this case considering the mine of the 2 characters this knowledge is not at all amusing.
The face of the water carrier is extremely marked. The wrinkles of the face are numerous, the wrinkles of the cheeks and of the neck are deep.
Its countenance is sad and serious. If the painting is an allegory this one is certainly not optimistic. As the glance of the two characters goes down the key of the allegory is located at the bottom of the painting.
The mine of the child is completely cut down. The expression of its face lets appear much sadness and of gravity. It would be said almost that it will cry.
Water is symbol of life, there is no objective reason to be sad when water is received and that one will drink. But if water is also an allegory of blood and tears which must run, and it is what is known as on the wall of the earthenware jar, this revelation causes a negative emotion and an awakening of the character relentless of the existence and all the sufferings which can mark a life.
Water drops run out on the edges of glass returning to the drops which run out on the wall of the earthenware jar.
The Earthenware jar: An allegory of the human condition.
Water drops run out on the wall of the earthenware jar. These drops constitute a loss and they return to the other drops, higher, slipping on the edge of glass. They evoke the tears which will have to run cheeks of the man. As Velazquez lets appear red on the wall of the earthenware jar, the same red that it uses on the cheeks of the child the drops symbolize also blood. Blood and tears here an allegory of the human condition which explains the serious and afflicted expression, completely melancholic person and bitter of the faces of the water carrier and the young boy.
The picture is enlightened of in bottom on the left. This type of lighting popularized by Caravage as if a projector lit the scene on with dimensions one tends to dramatize works which are found located between light and half-light. What has little importance is not enlightened.
Harmonize and contrasts.
Harmonize between hot colours.
Similar Paintings :
Diego Velázquez. (1599 – 1660). Old woman Making Fry eggs. 1618.
Diego Velázquez. (1599 – 1660). Lunch of Peasants. 1622.
Diego Velázquez. (1599 – 1660). The Forging mill of Vulcan. (1630, Museum of Prado, Madrid).