Velázquez, Old Woman Frying Eggs, c.1618 / The Water Seller of Seville, c.1620
At the age of twelve, Diego Velázquez became apprentice to Sevillan painter Francisco Pacheco. At 18 he became an independent Master. Then he married Pacheco’s daughter. Pacheco therefore… knew him well.
Pacheco writes on Velázquez: Kitchen Scenes and other scenes of Home Life
Are we then to hold these bodegones (genre scenes) as of no account? No, they are certainly to be valued - that is, when painted as Velázquez paints them - for in this branch he has attained such eminence that he has left room for no rival. They deserve high esteem, for with these elements and with portraiture he discovered the true imitation of Nature, and encouraged many by his powerful example…
Pacheco writes on Velázquez: Life Studies
He kept a peasant lad as an apprentice, who for payments served him as a model in various attitudes and posture, weeping, laughing, in all imaginable difficult parts. After this model he drew many heads in charcoal and chalk on blue paper, and made similar studies after many other natives (naturales), thereby acquiring his sure hand in creating likeness.
From Arte de la Pintura, by Pacheco
Extraordinary realism. The reflections on each and every object, the textures… are so convincing, the facial expressions, the folds in the clothes are so accurate. These paintings most certainly are, as his Master writes… imitations of nature.
And I do believe I have spotted his young faithful apprentice!