The Jewish ancestry of Velasquez

In 1658 King Philip IV of Spain made Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez, who had served him for thirty years as his painter and as the Chief Superintend- ent of the Palace, a Knight of the Order of Santiago.2 Almost everything known about Velasquez’ ancestry comes from the one-hundred ‘proofs’ which had to be collected before he could be admitted to that Order. One of these refers to his paternal grandfather, Diego Rodriguez de Silva, as an alderman of the city of Oporto and a member of the Miserz’com’z’a charity there, who migrated to Seville together with his wife.3 Another states that Velasquez never sold a single painting, because he only painted for the king’s pleasure,4 which we know was not true.

It was fairly usual in the reign of Philip IV for knighthoods in the orders of chivalry to be conferred on men of known Jewish origin, in

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