Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656 [10’5″ x 9’1/2″]
Las Meninas has been called by some the “Greatest Painting in the History of Western Art.” This is due in large part to the fact that the artist Velazquez has presented the viewer with a paradox. A paradox because it is difficult to determine what exactly this scene represents. What is taking place before our eyes? This painting has also been referred to as Velazquez’ masterpiece and his personal manifesto.
Take a moment to examine Las Meninas. Share your theory on what is taking place in this scene with the class and what you believe Velazquez may be trying to convey to the viewer (his manifesto). Remember, there is no consensus in the art world on what is going on here, so don’t be shy about sharing your theory, just back it up with a plausible argument.
—here are a few websites which I think you will find interesting. The first delves into the symbolic geometry of the composition and here is another of MANY articles published about Las Meninas and Velazquez. It is a bit challenging but I think it is worth the read if you have time. It gives you insight into the painting as well as Velazquez and was written by one of the premier art critics of the 20th Century, Sir Kenneth Clark:
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