Diego Velázquez and the Subtle Art of Protest
Ingram presents Velázquez as heir to a tradition of converso non-conformism in Seville whose adherents confront the prejudicial social and religious mores of Spanish society. Velázquez’s early bodegones are themselves presented as examples of non-conformist humanist texts, as are a number of canvases painted during his first years at the court of Philip IV, where the young painter becomes enmeshed in a battle between the reforming faction of his patron, the Count-Duke of Olivares, and an opposing group of courtiers. At the center of this dispute is the capital’s community of Portuguese conversos, who have gravitated to Madrid to take advantage of the Count-Duke’s favorable attitude toward the New Christian business community. This strained atmosphere is reflected by Velázquez in his painting Los Borrachos, which, Ingram argues, is a veiled attack on Spain’s blood purity statutes and a prejudiced vulgo that support them.