Las Meninas (1656) by Diego Velazquez

Las Meninas - Diego VELAZQUEZ - 1656

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Artwork Information

TitleLas Meninas
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions318 x 276 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationMuseo del Prado, Madrid

About Las Meninas

The artwork “Las Meninas,” created by the esteemed artist Diego Velázquez in 1656, is a quintessential example of Baroque genre painting. This oil on canvas masterpiece, which measures an impressive 318 by 276 cm, currently resides in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Velázquez’s work is celebrated for its complex and intricate depiction of the Spanish royal court, as well as for its innovative approach to perspective and composition.

“Las Meninas” portrays a scene in the royal chamber, where Infanta Margaret Theresa, the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain, is surrounded by her attendants, including ladies-in-waiting (the ‘meninas’), court dwarfs, and a vigilant dog. In a striking play on perspective, Velázquez himself appears to the left of the canvas, paintbrush in hand, standing before a large easel. The precise nature of the work depicted on the easel is indiscernible, leading to much speculation about the layers of reality within the painting.

A mirror on the rear wall intriguingly reflects the upper bodies of the king and queen, suggesting they are the subjects being painted by Velázquez, or perhaps they are observers of the scene. This adds yet another dimension to the artwork’s exploration of sight and presence. The composition’s depth is further enhanced by the use of lighting, which streams in from an unseen source, illuminating the figures and creating deep shadows that contribute to the dramatic atmosphere characteristic of the Baroque movement. The artwork is renowned not only for its narrative complexity but also for its technical virtuosity, which continues to captivate viewers and art historians alike.

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