The Rokeby Venus

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The Rokeby Venus, 1651, Diego Velazquez 
By REID GUEMMER 

In 1905 The National Gallery in London purchased Velazquez's The Rokeby Venus for 45,000 pounds. The painting was publicly displayed until March 11th, 1942 when the gallery
held a typical public viewing day. One of the many attendants, Mary Richardson, stowed a meat chopper in her fur hand muff that she would later use in her attempt to destroy the painting. After using the chopper to break the glass, guards ran into the room after hearing the shatter although Richardson had already slashed the painting seven times. Thankfully, the painting has since been restored to where it almost appears as if the accident had never happened.

Velazquez generally excels at any genre of painting he takes his hand at, although especially in portraiture. In the Case of The Rokeby Venus, Velazquez most likely painted the piece in Rome since it provided a more liberal audience in the art scene. As one of Velazquez's three remaining nudes, it is an admirably unique piece. There is some stipulation on whether the painting was commissioned by notorious womanizer,  Gaspar Medez de Haro Bio, or whether it was Velazquez's own mistress. Either way, the painting shines a light on the road leading to artistic advancement and developing a more liberal, modern style.

The especially captivating part of this painting is Velazquez's work with reflection. Venus lays admiring the view of herself in the mirror while Cupid holds it and admires as well. Although while Venus reflects on her own beauty, she makes simultaneous eye contact with the viewer.

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