Las Meninas
A very mysterious painting by Diego Velázquez

 


Diego Velázquez (1599 - 1660) was the official painter of King Felipe IV of Spain and his family. 

The most famous royal painting by Velázquez is called Las Meninas (the Ladies-in Waiting).  It is also known as La Familia de Felipe IV.   However, this is no ordinary royal portrait!  There is a great deal of mystery about it!

The following people can be seen in the painting:

1. The small, five-year-old child in the centre - la Infanta Margarita Teresa (daughter of the king and queen).

2.  The ladies-in-waiting (las meninas) and other servants of la Infanta Margarita Teresa.

3.  The king and queen who are seen as a reflection in the mirror on the wall at the back.

4.  A servant of the queen who is standing in the open doorway at the back.

5.  The artist Diego Velázquez, himself!  He has incorporated a self-portrait where he is standing at a canvas on which he is painting.  Wouldn't you just love to know what he is painting on that canvas?  This leads to the following question:

 

THE MYSTERY:  WHO IS THE ARTIST ACTUALLY PAINTING ON THE CANVAS?

The reflection in the mirror shows the king and queen who are observing.  Therefore, are they in reality standing in the same position as us, the observers of the painting?   If this is the case, are we viewing the scene through the eyes of the king and queen? 

Are the king and queen posing for the artist?   Is it
their image on the mysterious canvas?  Several characters are looking towards us.  Are they also looking at the king and queen as they pose?  

It really is a multi-dimensional painting of mystery!   Do you have any theories about it?



Las Meninas is kept at el Museo del Prado in Madrid.

 Site updated: 3 Dec 2019    
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