In 1658, Velázquez was made a knight of Santiago. After being tasked with decoration responsibilities for the wedding of Maria Theresa and Louis XIV, Velázquez became ill. He died in Madrid on August 6, 1660.
Velázquez traveled to Italy from June 1629 to January 1631, where he was influenced by the region’s great artists. After returning to Madrid, he began a series of portraits that featured members of the royal family on horseback. Velázquez also devoted time to painting the dwarves who served in King Philip’s court, taking care to depict them as complex, intelligent beings. Along with his painting duties, Velázquez undertook increasing responsibilities within the court, ranging from wardrobe assistant to superintendent of palace works.
In December 1622, Rodrigo de Villandrando, the king’s favorite court painter, died.  Velázquez received a command to come to the court from the Count-Duke of Olivares, the powerful minister of Philip IV. He was offered 50 ducats (175 g of gold) to defray his expenses, and he was accompanied by his father-in-law. Fonseca lodged the young painter in his home and sat for a portrait, which, when completed, was conveyed to the royal palace.  A portrait of the king was commissioned, and on August 30, 1623, Philip IV sat for Velázquez.  The portrait pleased the king, and Olivares commanded Velázquez to move to Madrid, promising that no other painter would ever paint Philip’s portrait and all other portraits of the king would be withdrawn from circulation.  In the following year, 1624, he received 300 ducats from the king to pay the cost of moving his family to Madrid, which became his home for the remainder of his life.
Velázquez had established his reputation in Seville by the early 1620s. He traveled to Madrid in April 1622, with letters of introduction to Don Juan de Fonseca, chaplain to the King. Velázquez was not allowed to paint the new king, Philip IV, but portrayed the poet Luis de Góngora at the request of Pacheco.  The portrait showed Góngora crowned with a laurel wreath, which Velázquez later painted over.  He returned to Seville in January 1623 and remained there until August. 
Velázquez is universally acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest artists. The naturalistic style in which he was trained provided a language for the expression of his remarkable power of observation in portraying both the living model and still life. Stimulated by the study of 16th-century Venetian painting, he developed from a master of faithful likeness and characterization into the creator of masterpieces of visual impression unique in his time. With brilliant diversity of brushstrokes and subtle harmonies of colour, he achieved effects of form and texture, space, light, and atmosphere that make him the chief forerunner of 19th-century French Impressionism.
Diego Velázquez first studied under Francisco Herrera the Elder, and then he was apprenticed to Francisco Pacheco for about six years. When Philip IV came to the throne in 1621, Velázquez sought to obtain royal patronage. He finally won it in 1623, becoming the only painter allowed to paint the king.
The same ability to look beyond external trappings to the human mystery beneath is seen in his incomparable series of portraits of the pitiful court fools (Prado) вЂ” dwarfs and idiots whom Philip, like other monarchs, kept for his amusement. VelГЎzquez presents them without any suggestion of caricature, but with pathos and human understanding, as if they too are worthy of his respect.
The 1630s and 1640s (before he again left for Italy) were the most productive period of VelГЎzquez’s career. His series of royal and court portraits continued and he expanded his range in a series of glorious equestrian portraits (Prado). In these he showed an unprecedented ability to attain complete atmospheric unity between foreground and background in the landscape. Their rhetorical poses are in the Baroque tradition, but they are without bombast or allegorical embellishments and as portraits are characteristically direct.