oil on canvas, 321- 281 cm. Museum of the Prado, Madrid.
“The Theology of Painting” is how the 17th century painter Luca Giordano described this masterwork. And it is said that Théopile Gautier was even beyond Giordano, and, in front of this canvas, asked: 'but where is the painting?'. In fact, Gautier was in front of the work that is –along with the precedent one- the zenith of the baroque painting.
Velázquez depicted himself painting the royal portraits of Kings Felipe IV and Mariana of Austria when the irruption of Infant Margarita caused the interruption of the session. In this way, it is implied that the King and the Queen, who can be seen reflected in a small mirror at the foreground, are located at the same position than the spectator, creating a skilful in-and-out plot in which the observer feels the impulse to advance towards the interior of the picture.
Though this story is probably more false than true, it is said that when Velázquez presented the painting to Felipe IV, the King said: “it lacks a final detail”. And taking the brush, he painted on Velázquez's chest the cross of the Order of Santiago. Legends aside, this work is one of the best paintings of the history of the humanity.
Text: G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com