Velasquez's followers painted bodegones, but never with such vision and compassion. Velasquez's ability to see profound human significance in the ordinary, and his poetic reverence for the real over the religious, prompted Ortega y Gasset to exclaim, “Velasquez is an atheist giant, a godless colossos. With his brush he sweeps away the gods as with a broom. He is our painter. He paved the way for our irreligious era, an administrative age in which, instead of talking about Dionysus, we speak of alcoholism.”
an allegory of the three stages in the life of man – the model for the old man was Velasquez’s master, who posed for it, the boy was the painter’s apprentice, and in the center is Velasquez, in a subtle self portrait – he occupies the middle ground in age, the observer hiding in the shadows, taking in the entire spectacle of life.