Diego Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660)
An Old Woman Cooking Eggs, 1618
Oil on canvas
39 1/2 x 47 in.
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh
© Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland
In this work painted by Velázquez when he was only eighteen or nineteen years old and living in his native Seville, the figures and household objects stand out forcefully from the dark ground. The slightly disconnected gazes and suspended gestures of the old woman and the boy infuse tension into the scene. The artist showcases his remarkable technical skill through his differentiation of the textures of a wide variety of materials — from the wooden table and spoon and gleaming brass containers to the glazed earthenware and the eggs congealing in oil. The realism that Velázquez achieved in this painting and other early kitchen scenes (known as bodegones) was new in Spanish art at this time and earned him renown. By 1623, at the age of twenty-four, he was invited to the court of Madrid, where he spent his career in the service of King Philip IV.