We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Analysis of Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez Essay Sample

essay
The whole doc is available only for registered users OPEN DOC

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Analysis of Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez Essay Sample

Las Meninas is considered to be Diego Velazquez’s magnum opus. Painted in the 1600s, this 3D painting was ahead of its time. Deviating from his classic bodegon art or genre based painting, Diego created a surreal impression of the royal family that permanently put him above his peers. Originally named “The Family of Philip IV”, the painting creates a picturesque representation of the royal family. And Diego did not see the need to sign his name on it- he instead included himself in it, doing what he does best- painting.

About the Artist

Diego Velazquez was born on 6th June 1599 in Seville, Spain. He began his apprenticeship at the age of eleven under Francisco Pacheco and later married his mentor’s daughter, Juana in 1617. After his move to Madrid in 1622, his father-in-law gave him the chance to paint the Count-Duke of Olivares, who recommended him to King Philip IV. His move to the king’s court exposed him to great painters, such as Peter Paul Rubens, who had spent several months at the court in 1628.

One of his notable paintings in this period is The Triumph of Bacchus, in which the Greek god of wine casts a spell on a group of revelers. He was also influenced greatly by renowned Italian artists such as Caravaggio after several trips to Italy. It was during these trips that he got the honor of painting Pope Innocent X, which became one of his finest portraits. After his return to Madrid, he painted his most revered work Las Meninas featuring the young Margarita Theresa in 1656. Two years later, he was bestowed the honor of a knight of Santiago. He died on 6 August 1660.

Composition of Las Meninas

The setting of the painting is the cuarto bajo del principe, which was both Diego’s art studio and his dwelling place. Infanta Margarita Teresa (1651-73), the little blonde girl is the focal point of this painting. She is being attended to by two maids of honor. On the left is Maria Agustina, kneeling before the future queen and offering her a drink from a red cup. To the princess’ right is Isabel de Velasco, holding her dress and probably doing a curtsy for the young princess. Slightly in front of the curtsying maid are two dwarfs, Maribarbola with her disfigured face and Nicolas de Pertusato, who appears to be kicking a resting dog.

Behind them is Marcela de Ulloa, who was the ladies’ governess and an usher. Further behind them is an open doorway, where Don Jose de Nieto Velazquez appears to be drawing aside a curtain to allow light to enter the studio. Don Jose was the Marshall of the queens’ palace. To bring realism into the portrait, he meticulously brings into effect the 3D diagram of his studio with paintings on the walls. The portraits highlighted behind Velazquez were done by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. They include the Judgment of Midas and Pallas and Arachne.

There is also a mirror directly behind the young princess reflecting what appear to be images of the king and his queen. Diego uses a contrast of light and darkness to bring focus to the princess Margarita and her two maids of honor- sealing their images as the focal
points of the portrait.

The Bone of Contention

The question that has been bothering people since the portrait was made is who does Velazquez paint? Clearly, the painting Velazquez does not cast a glance at the individuals on the portrait. His attention is fixed upon something past the image field. It seems that every one in the portrait is concerned with what is in front of them just like the painter. The answer lies in the mirror behind them, which reflects the image of the King Philip IV and his queen. They appear to be seated and posing as Velazquez does his magic.

Las Meninas is therefore a ‘behind the scene’ representation of what happens during the making of royal portraits. King Philip IV was indifferent to being portrayed as old and he therefore shied away from many portraits. This could have facilitated the artist’s unconventional approach to making this painting. Velazquez therefore concentrates on the Infanta and then gives us a glimpse of the old king through the mirror. It is no wonder it was renamed from ‘The Family of King Philip IV’ to Las Meninas, because it is the maids of honor who are at the center of the drawing. We are actually witnessing art from the king’s eyes or his wife’s.

His apparent love for distracting viewers from the main figures of his portraits is also prevalent in his other masterpieces, notably:
Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, where Christ and his friends are only visible through a serving hatch and the Rokeby Venus, where the face of the central figure is completely blurred in a mirror. While we may never know what he had in mind while making these portraits, theorists believed that he had an unconventional view that life was an illusion. Since he was under the Spanish king- the custodian of the Roman Catholic beliefs, he could not air his sentiments openly and therefore opted to create illusionary art.

Las Meninas remains to be Velazquez’s greatest work, outshining all his other Baroque art works including Christ on the Cross (1632), Portrait of pope Innocent X (1650), The Surrender of Breda (1634) and The Waterseller of Seville (1622).

References:

  • Las Meninas – Wikipedia
  • Diego Velázquez – Wikipedia
  • 14 Things To Know About Velázquez’s Las Menina

Read next:

Ancient Chinese Art
Massacre of the Innocents by Sir Peter Paul Rubens
Wassily Kandinsky’s Abstract Art: Composition 8

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

The Pit and the Pendulum 1961 review

The Pit and the Pendulum movie based on Poe’s classic tale has been adapted for screen 3 times over the course of 50 years. This is how it goes, envision being condemned to an unbearable demise with no knowledge into when or how it will occur. In Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum', the anonymous storyteller ends up in a startling circumstance after...

What is homeostasis?

The definition of homeostasis tells that the propensity to keep up a stable, moderately steady inside condition is called homeostasis. The body keeps up homeostasis for some variables notwithstanding temperature. For example, the convergence of different particles in your blood must be kept unfaltering, alongside pH and the centralization of glucose. On the off chance that these qualities get too high or low, you can...

1924 States Plan History

The Dawes Plan 1924 was point by point to expel Weimar Germany from hyperinflation and to reestablish Weimar's economy to some kind of relentlessness. The Dawes Plan definition tells it got its name as the man who headed the leading group of trustees was an American called Charles Dawes. The Treaty of Versailles had constrained enormous reparation portions on Weimar Germany to pay for the...

Summary of the Lives of Others

He sits like a man stepping through a hearing exam, huge earphones clasped over his ears, his body and face solidified, tuning in for a faraway sound. His name is Gerd Wiesler, and he is a chief in the Stasi, the infamous mystery police of East Germany. The year is, fittingly, 1984, and he is Big Brother, viewing. He sits in an upper room for...

Maccabian Janissaries – Explanation

The Maccabian Janissaries are the veiled, devout battling power of the Holy place of worship universe of Maccabeus Quintus. Energetic in confidence and over the top in war, the Janissaries are the first class handpicked patrols of the planet who try to spread the royal truth to all sides of the universe. Along these lines, many see that turning into a Janissary is the best...

Get Access To The Full Essay
icon
300+
Materials Daily
icon
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
icon
Free Plagiarism
Checker
icon
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access
immediately?

Become a member

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Couldn't Find What You Looking For?

Get access to our huge knowledge base which is continuously updated

Next Update Will Be About:
14 : 59 : 59
Become a Member