History of the house
Velázquez’s Birthplace is one of the oldest houses in Seville. Built in the heart of the city’s old Moorish quarter between about 1560 and 1570, it dates from when Seville was turning into the economic and commercial driving force of the Spanish Empire.
Juan Rodríguez de Silva, an ecclesiastical notary, and his wife Gerónima Velázquez moved into the house in 1598. Their son Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, who was born a year later in 1599, was to go down in history as one of the greatest artistic geniuses of all time. Young Diego stayed there with his family until 1610, when – at the age of eleven – he began his apprenticeship as a painter; initially for a few months with Herrera the Elder, and later with Francisco Pacheco, with whom he completed his training over the next six years. His professional career officially began in 1617, when he was admitted to the Guild of Painters.
The house continued to be a residential property, shared by several families, for the next four centuries. In the 1970s, it was acquired by a consortium of local businessmen who restored the building and converted it into the M11 Art Gallery. The items exhibited there included pieces by artists such as Antonio Saura and Luis Gordillo. The gallery enjoyed considerable prestige in Seville during Spain’s transition to democracy.
The famous Seville-based couturiers Victorio and Lucchino bought the house in 1984, and it functioned as their studio until 2010, when the company went into administration. In 2018, another consortium, this time led by Enrique Bocanegra and Enrique Piñeyro, an arts administrator and an engineer respectively, took on the house with plans to preserve it and open it up to the public as Velázquez’s Birthplace, an educational centre dedicated to the life, work and times of Seville’s most famous painter. Work on the project is now under way.