Diego Valentín Díaz

Valladolid, 1586 - 1660

  • Still Life I

  • Still Life II


This artist from Valladolid pursued a long career in his city of origin, where he became the most important painter of the 17th century and enjoyed great acclaim and prestige. He trained with his father, the little known painter Pedro Díaz Minaya, in a style still linked to the late Mannerism of El Escorial, and later adopted a somewhat conventional and idealistic language with a cold palette characteristic of early Baroque painting. His output was very abundant and he established a large workshop with numerous journeymen and pupils which chiefly produced altarpieces and religious works as well as a few portraits, flower paintings and also – although they are not known today – genre scenes, vanitas paintings, landscapes and mural decorations. Valentín was also a prominent gilder of altarpieces and a painter of sculptures, and this led him to develop a close relationship with Gregorio Fernández, with whom he often collaborated. His fame faded in the following century, so much so that he is not cited by Palomino in his artists’ biographies. He was rescued from this undeserved oblivion by Antonio Ponz and Isidoro Bosarte and especially following the research conducted by Martí y Monsó at the beginning of the century and by later scholars.

Valentín was a devout man who held the title of Familiar of the Holy Office, belonged to many local brotherhoods and was on very good terms with the church. He painted the portraits of several bishops of Valladolid, where he founded a school for orphaned girls of which he was patron from 1647 until his death, after receiving a legacy from relatives.

A cultivated and scholarly painter, he exchanged correspondence with Francisco Pacheco and was acquainted with Velázquez, who went to visit him in his city in 1660, shortly before both men died. The inventory compiled of his possessions the following year provides an insight into the importance of his library. It contained more than 450 books of all kinds – religious, astronomical, anatomic, artistic and technical treatises and literary works by Tirso de Molina, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Cervantes, among others. He also owned a large number of prints, engravings and drawings, among them a few models by Dürer, Barocci, Tempesta and Rubens. The inventory also lists 260 paintings, not all by him. Most were religious works, but it also mentions a few flower paintings, perhaps executed by him, as well as a portrait of him by Juan Carreño de Miranda.

Trinidad de Antonio