The Waterseller of Seville

Diego Velázquez (1599-1660)

This is one of the most famous early paintings by Velázquez, produced in his home town of Seville when he was in his late teens or early 20s before he moved to Madrid.

An old man in ragged clothes pours water for his two customers; the young boy in the foreground averts his pale face from the dark-skinned waterseller, the second customer is in shadow.

The use of light to model his characters and produce a sombre and moving portrait shows the artist’s skill. The viewer is not invited into the picture, the subjects avert their gaze not just from us but from each other.