Considered as a Baroque masterpiece of 1656, Las Meninas, Spanish for The Maids of Honor, is a representation of the Spanish Royal family. The Spanish artist, Diego Velasquez, was the official painter of King Philip IV of Spain. At first the painting was identified as El cuadro de la Familia in seventeenth-century inventories. It was then known under the name of La Familia de Felipe IV in 1734, before being given its popular title Las Meninas in 1843. This painting is thus a court picture which depicts the presence of the monarchs and the royal household. The scene could be taking place in the painter's studio which was located in the palace of Philip IV. The painting is an oil on canvas found at the Museo del Prado in Madrid which measures more than three meters long by roughly three meters wide. It shows near life-sized characters and an impressive spatial construction with an overwhelming sense of realism. The artist's impressive work relies on the effect of the brushwork and on the delicate harmony of the colors, shapes and characters. The important cast of characters, including the presence of the artist, and the complexities of the painting make it ambiguous and thus a challenge to interpret.
Several characters are presented, who are identified as from the Spanish court. In the center of the painting stands the young princess, daughter of the King, Infanta Margarita Teresa. She is surrounded by two meninas, a chaperone, two dwarfs, a bodyguard and a dog. However, even if she represents the main subject of the scene, her entourage does not seem to direct their attention to her. On the left side in the dark, is the mysterious presence of the artist himself gazing beyond the pictorial space to where a spectator would be standing. The artist actually portrayed himself painting another canvas. The fact that Velasquez includes himself in the portrait of the royal family and in such size shows that he considered himself being important enough to be...
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