PERHAPS the most successful court painter of all time was Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velásquez. He had servants and slaves, was a palace chamberlain and a knight of the noble Order of Santiago. His sovereign, King Philip IV of Spain, thought so highly of him that he even consented to pose for him between battles at the front. But royal favorite though he was, Velásquez won greatness by his own unaffected naturalism. "I should prefer," he once said, "to be the leading painter of what are considered common subjects than the second best of the refined.''

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