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VELÁZQUEZ - Meninas


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The family of King Philip IV (Las Meninas)

DIEGO DE VELÁZQUEZ (Spanish, 1599-1660)

1656
oil on canvas, 321 x 281 cm. Prado Museum, Madrid.



Italian painter Luca Giordano described "Las Meninas" as “The Theology of Painting”. And it is said that Théopile Gautier, admiring this work, asked: "But... Where is the painting?". Universally praised and admired, "Las Meninas" is –along with the previous work by Rembrandt- the zenith of Baroque Painting.

Velázquez depicted himself painting the royal portraits of Kings Felipe IV and Mariana of Austria, when the irruption of Infant Margarita causes 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 background- are located at the same position than the spectator, creating a skilful in-and-out plot in which the observer feels the impulse of advancing towards the interior of the picture.

Although this story is probably more false than true, it is said that when Velázquez presented this 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 Western Art.

Text: G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com

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