Having never read a book on Velazquez, I took a suggestion from one of my teachers and picked this one up at the library (art books are too expensive!). Being a fine arts/art history student, this was like discovering gold. The book is very well-written. I was able to travel the halls of the Spanish court with ease, because of the lucid, conversational style of writing. Brown doesn't mince words, and his inclusion of 17th century Spanish history is done where it needs to be. Everything in the book is there to inform the reader about Velazquez, whether it's his life, technique, or those around him. Most interesting is how the mood and frivolities of court greatly affected Velazquez's output. Brown states in his introduction that the book is for both the casual reader, and the scholar. After reading the book, this is very true. Scholars would do well to read this book, as Brown offers highly educated opinions and conclusions on Velazquez's style of painting, and the internal and external reasons around the artist that made him paint the way he did, both in quality and quantity. If you can afford this, buy it by all means. It offers the student a great grounding from which to explore Velazquez's paintings, and the techniques seen therein.