A Reunion For Velazquez

Even in New York, with a raft of museums filled with masterpieces, it's surprising how long it can take to get works by a single great artist together in one room. In the case of the 17th-century Spanish painter Velazquez - one of the most soulfully dignified portraitists of all time - it was never. Until now. For the 400th anniversary of his birth, the Frick Collection has gathered together six portraits covering 30 years of his career. Three paintings (including the delicately austere "Portrait of a Little Girl") represent the first time in 90 years that the Hispanic Society of America has let any of its old masters out the door. Two others, including "Juan de Pareja," a movingly noble portrait of the black man who became the painter's assistant, come from the Met. Velazquez's final official portrait of King Philip IV of Spain is the Frick's own.
Although Velazquez was a genuine prodigy when he came to Madrid at the age of 24 to paint the king, he gloried working amid the royal collection, where he could pick up pointers from the likes of Titian. The Frick has a Titian, too - and a van Eyck, and a Bellini, and a whole lot of the world's best pictures. Velazquez not only looks wonderful in the quiet galleries of the Frick, he probably would have been happy painting there, too.

VelazquezFrick Collection
New York
Through Jan. 16