Art History III: The Art of Modern World HA217
February 13, 2012
Las Hilanderas (The Spinners)
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez
Diego Velasquez is known to be the “magician of the brush to master all the tricks and challenges of realistic depiction.” 1 Diego Velasquez used his brush to convey not only one simple message but also his works were “intended to be read on several levels, and incorporate false trails and conundrums.” 2 He was an artist that was seeking the level of respect of his work, as did poetry and philosophy in the Greek times. Four hundred years later, many are deciphering his work. Diego Velasquez has had a great impact on what the meaning of art and that is not subjected to one simple answer but lies “in a picture within a picture.” 2 Diego Velasquez artwork “Las Hilanderas” is one of the many paintings trying to be deciphered in this day of age. When one views this piece one might as well think that it is a simple painting of two young women weaving in a workshop.3 Yet when looks upon very closely, one cannot help but view the different levels of message conveyed in this one art piece. This by no means is a very typical aspect of Diego Velasquez’ art works in the Seventeenth Century. The reality is the old woman with a veil is the goddess Athena, disguised to compete against Arachne the mortal who dared defy the goddess herself.4 Story states that there was a young lady who weaved very beautifully and boasted her talent to all who viewed her works. She defiantly admitted that her hands were much more talented than that of the goddess Athena. Word came to Athena of this insolence so she retreated to the village where Arachne lived, and “turned her into a spider” as an example that no one should boast their talents, and remind them that they were all but mere mortals. 5 The painting itself has many layers to unravel and each piece plays a crucial role in...