He was a baroque painter, considered one of the greatest exponents of Spanish painting and master of universal painting.
He spent his first years in Sevilla, where he developed a naturalistic style of lighting, influenced by Caravaggio and his followers. At the age of 24 he moved to Madrid, where he was appointed painter of King Philip IV and four years later was promoted to chamber painter, the most prominent position among court painters. His work consisted in painting portraits of the king and his family, as well as other paintings designed to decorate the royal mansions. His presence at the court allowed him to study the actual collection of paintings where he knew both old and actual paintings, and where determinant influences to evolve into a style of painting. Great luminosity, with quick and loose brushstrokes. In his maturity, from 1631, he painted in this way great works like The Surrender of Breda. In its last decade, its style became more schematic and sketched, reaching an extraordinary dominion of the light. This period was inaugurated with the Portrait of Pope Innocent X, painted on his second trip to Italy, and his last two masterpieces: Las meninas y las spinadores.
Its catalog consists of about 120 or 130 works. The recognition as a universal painter occurred lately, around 1850. It reached its maximum fame between 1880 and 1920, coinciding with the time of the French impressionist painters.