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
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About Las Meninas

Diego Velázquez’s painting Las Meninas is a renowned masterpiece that is considered as one of the most important and influential works in Western art history. Set in a grand room covered with rich wall decorations, this painting portrays the Infanta Margarita Teresa accompanied by her entourage of courtiers and two dwarf attendants. This painting has been analysed deeply and viewers have noticed numerous themes like symmetrical positioning of figures, representation of power, new realism in Baroque style and its mysterious nature.

The significance of the painting can also be seen through its attention to details – there are several artistic elements used by Velázquez to capture each character’s individual attributes such as their wardrobe, poses and expressions. Regarding lighting, it is depicted through a single source which illuminates from the side at an angle, creating dynamic perspective within the composition. Through this piece, “Velazquez paints a complex composition that allows us to consider space from multiple angles” (Moufarrege).

Velázquez produced many more magisterial works such as his 1630 painting Joseph’s Bloody Coat Brought To Jacob. In this work Velázquez uses a cleverly orchestrated lighting system to draw out all nuances of form within its narrative setting by exploiting light and shadow. It is no surprise that this piece captures drama and emotion while celebrating humanity’s strength through varied subject poses and colours in the artist’s distinct Baroque style.

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