The Prado Museum

For sheer splendor of coloring, direct and immediate in its effect upon the senses, there is no room in the world to compare with the main Velazquez room in the Prado. Every color of the rainbow and the sunset is there, as fresh and unfaded as if the paint were scarcely dry. But unlike the sunset, their charm endures and increases with longer looking. They are not merely bright and intense, but organized into complex designs which heighten the intrinsic power of each color, and add the further delight of subtle transitions and harmonies. Still more, they appeal through association, by reminding us of every rich texture we have seen and touched, and by creating a roomful of human beings that seem to be more alive and individual than any ordinary flesh-and-blood assemblage. The versatility of these paintings is amazing; they seem to include every possible style and technique, from the early Renaissance to modern impressionism, and each with a light, inimitable ease of touch.

One must visit the Grecos and Goyas in neighboring rooms to discover two qualities lacking in Velazquez: dynamic energy of movement, and intensity of emotional expression. Velazquez is quiet, aloof, impersonal; these others are narrower but more human in their aspirations and passions. In addition, they speak, as he does, the direct language of visible form.