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All the relatives of Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez (Madrid, 5.11.1763 - Madrid, 31.1.1834) - his parents, his brothers-in law, and his son - were all painters. His life can serve as an example of how a painter should work according to the canons that were imposed by the Bourbon government with the help of the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. It is impossible to understand the biography and the painting activity of Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez without knowing about the existence of the Academy of San Fernando where he was appointed General Director on the 19th of March, 1828. The influence of his family and the Academy of San Fernando, as well as his working at the Court, were the key factors in the development of the artistic career of Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez during his life.

Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez was born in Madrid on the 5th of November, 1763. He was a son of the painter Antonio Gonzalez Velazquez and his second wife Manuela Tolosa y Avinon. Antonio Gonzalez Velazquez, son of a sculptor Pablo Gonzalez Velazquez, was a famous painter who was admitted to the Court in 1775 and who occupied the position of Director of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando since 1765.

San Francisco embracing a leper


But his father was not the last artist in their family, because two of his brothers, Isidro Gonzalez Velazquez and Castor Gonzalez Velazquez, were also studying at the Academy of San Fernando and made an outstanding artistic career. Even two of his brothers-in-law, Antonio López Aguado y Mariano Salvador Maella, were acclaimed painters, especially the latter, at the Spanish Court during the time of Enlightment.

If we concentrate our attention on the life of Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez, another factor that was important in his life will draw our attention, and that was his career in the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. With the help of his father, Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez enrolled in this institution on the 4th of May, 1777 and already a year later he won the first prize of the Second grade of painting with his drawings "The Great Captain in front of the Pope Alexander VI" and "Anibal in his dreams". His successful education in the Academy ended in 1782, and he began working privately, painting various canvases and a number of pictures for tapestry that were called "Fishermen in Naples" which he made in 1785 under the guidance of his brother-in-law, Mariano Salvador Maella, and "The Scenes of the Life of San Francisco" made in 1787 for the church of San Francisco el Grande in Madrid.

The eighties were for Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez a period of intensive work that brought him an academic title in the Academy of San Fernando which he accepted on the 7th of November, 1790. A little bit later he was appointed Assistant Professor to the Sala de Principios of the Academy in 1793, where he worked until 1807.

Christening of San Francisco

During these years he was very prolific and he became an Honoured Court painter on the llth of August, 1801. Afterwards he was appointed permanent Court painter in July, 1802. While occupying this post he realized the most important of his works in fresco (in the Chapel of San Isidro in Madrid in 1789, Real Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia in Madrid in 1792, in the Casa del Labrador de El Escorial and in the King's room in the Palace ofAranjuez and some others in the nineteenth century), and some works with a religious motif (canvases from the series of "The Immaculate Conception", paintings for the Chapel of Santa Cueva in Cadiz and those for the cloister of the convent of San Francisco el Grande), as well as the portraits of the members of his own family and himself, of the Royal family and of the most distinguished gentlemen of his time.

With the nomination of the Deputy Director of painting of the Academy of San Fernando in February 1807, Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez started making a good career in the Academy at the time when the whole cultural activity at the Court was paralyzed by the French invasion and the War of Independence. As he could not do otherwise, the professional activity of Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez went downhill. During that time he stayed in Madrid and joined the painters of the court of Jose I, although after the returning of Fernando VII he would not have any problems in rejoining the service of the above-mentioned monarch, probably thanks to the influence of the Infant Carlos Maria Isidro de Borbon to whom Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez became very attached during the last period of his life. That is why the future nominations of Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez in this institution were made when the Infant was protector and patron of the Academy: on the 26th of June, 1818 he was appointed as Honorary Director of painting of the Academy and on the 2nd of October 1819 he was appointed as permanent director of painting. Finally, he was nominated Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando on the 19th of March 1828, and he was holding that post until 1831.

During that period Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez continued painting in fresco as it can be proved by his decorations of the Club of the Queen (in 1816 and 1817) and the decorations of the Palace of El Pardo that he started in 1824. Among his works on a religious theme one can distinguish his canvases for the altar of the Church of San Felipe el Real in 1817 ("The Triumph of San Agustin") and "The Apparition of the Virgin to San Fernando" (1819) for the Chapel of the Royal Canal of Manzanares. Among his portraits the most outstanding are those of Fernando VII, his self-portraits and the portraits of his relatives like Antonio Gonzalez Velazquez or Juliana Gonzalez Velazquez.

Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez died in Madrid on the 31st of January, 1834, relatively forgotten by people after he was dismissed from the post of Director of the Academy of San Fernando in 1831. His attachment to the Infant Carlos Maria Isidro, his true protector during the reign of Fernando VII resulted in the disregard of his talent after the death of the Infant who was trying earlier to succeed to the throne. It can serve as an example of the new tendencies and new time in the Academy and in the artistic atmosphere at the Court with the manifestation of the "artistic dictatorship" that was later imposed by the Madrazos.



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