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Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas

 

Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas

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Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas

            Las Meninas was a painting done in 1656 by Diego Velázquez that triggered controversial question concerning its approach towards realism and fantasy. The painting illustrates an expansive space in the Royal Alcazar when King Philip IV was still in power. It captures several key individuals that were common in the Spanish court organized according to most commentators, in a manner that could only be described a snapshot. Some characters seemed to be staring outside the canvas towards the spectator, while others intermingled around the scene. The juvenile Margaret Theresa was encircled by her train of house cleaners, escorts, guard, and a dog. Behind this group, Velázquez captured himself painting on a large canvas (Foucault, 2012).

Velázquez’s remarkable work depended entirely on the display caused by the brushwork, and on the subtle accord of the forms, colors, and individuals portrayed. He was definitely an excellent painter, through the Las Meninas, he showed an exhilarating depiction of humanity in history, an amalgamation of the portrait, fantasy, realism, romance, similarity, and self-portrait ever created (Portús & Morán, 2014). A fundamental element of all Baroque works of art is lighting. Baroque artists chose to manipulate light to create numerous focal points within a painting. Velázquez attempted to use the gossamer effect in the light to establish a poetic atmosphere that stopped the whole image from disintegrating into individual parts. Rather, the ambiance fused the incongruent aspects of the painting (Foucault, 2012). The aspects of color and light are just some of the elements that made Velázquez’s paintings to be regarded as masterpieces. He placed great consideration into all the characters and other elements within the painting. For instance, he thought that the dog had to be painted with a dreamlike air of satisfaction in spite of the buzz happening around it. Velázquez’s brushwork emphasized and differentiated the variety of textures in the garments adorned by the people in the painting.

Historical Context of Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas

The setting of the Las Meninas appears to be quite clear initially. With her location at the core of the activity, and with Velázquez shining light directly on her, the princess, Margarita is the exact focal point. This rare glance into the 17th century life in the royal courtyard has acted as an excellent way of studying Spanish history for learners, analysts, and scholars alike. Decrypting the accurate meaning of Las Meninas is impracticable and it appears that this was specifically Velázquez’s target. Many inquiries have been left unrequited permitting each spectator to reach their own understanding concerning the true denotation and objectives of the painting. The eternity of Las Meninas is captured flawlessly by Velázquez for the reason that he stumbled on a theme that was timeless in nature (Foucault, 2012). Defying the norms of conventional portraits, Velázquez opted to illustrate to the viewer, a rare ‘behind the scenes’ perspective of the royal lifestyle. In the same way that human beings are ought to devour controversy in celebrity magazines, the painter expected human nature to pique its curiosity when presented with such a complex work of art. Whether it was the 17th century or the twenty-first, no ordinary man would relinquish the chance to have a tour around the private quarters (Portús & Morán, 2014). During that time, the royal portraiture had a tendency of complying with harsh official procedures to a point of showing stern faces on monotonous backdrops. Velázquez played a major role by breaking the divide that existed between the royalty and proletariat. Finally, the world had an opportunity to taste political and social equality by experiencing the events at the palace of King Philip IV. Apart from offering the viewer this lucky opportunity, Las Meninas also contributed to the understanding of Spain’s history by exposing the royals especially the fact that they had feature like any normal family. From the painting, an ordinary viewer can glean a wealth of information concerning the Spanish history and heritage (Foucault, 2012).

Mystery in Work of Art

The inconsistency of Las Meninas is easily perceived if the analysts or observers can consider that in the painting, the painter shared with the viewers his overwhelming feeling towards for the ambiguity of life and the cosmos. His gargantuan studio was a replica of the universe that he attempted to depict (Buero & Serrano, 2013). The light pouring in from the right managed to grab Margarita’s concentration and act as a reminder to the viewer of human’s reliance on the sun’s heat and light. In the end, it would be easy to assume that Las Meninas displayed Velazquez’s massive admiration of existence and stresses life’s frailty in a completely volatile and inexplicable (contradictory) universe (Foucault, 2012). The audience should critically consider the fact that the painter was intrigued with astronomy. In the dark, his exploration of the sky using a simple telescope is enough evidence of his thoughts of the enormity and secrecy of the universe.

The most puzzling part of the background in the painting is that the painter chose to capture the royal couple by their indistinct reflections in the mirror that was suspended on the wall (Nottage, 2004). Velázquez ingeniously toys with perspective at this stage and in the process, distorts the precision and blatancy in his painting. His intentional imprecision makes it impossible to ask questions. Principally, who was Velázquez painting on the large canvas that almost reached the roof? Some analysts proposed that he was painting the view openly to his left; the scene containing Infanta Margarita and maids of honor (Portús & Morán, 2014). The mystery here is that if the above assertion is accurate, then the Spanish king and queen were on the periphery since they only acted as a passive audience supervising their daughter (Foucault, 2012). Nevertheless, this would imply that Velázquez had taken an unusual position when painting the young princess. Such a position would result in an abnormal picture. The other view is that the painter was working on a portrait of King Philip IV and his queen, Mariana, as they posed in front of him. Margarita would then have assumed the position of the passive audience placed to observe the subjects. These wide ranges of peculiarities serve to trouble the minds of many scholars and art experts adding to the mystery surrounding the Las Meninas (Carminati, 2012).

In conclusion, Las Meninas represented one of the finest works of art created by Diego Velázquez from Spain. The painting captured the royal family as well as the servants and escorts. On the surface, it may seem like a basic work of art. However, on deeper inspection, Las Meninas reveals many hidden mysteries, clever use of light and emphasis, as well as the inclusion of socially relevant pointers. Indeed, it has generated a volume of praise and controversies in equal measure (Foucault, 2012). These inquiries cannot be countered but rather, every bearer who encounters the Las Meninas must make an individual conclusion. This is what has maintained the reputation of the painting into the 21st century.

 

 

References

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Buero, V. A., & Serrano, V. (2013). Las Meninas. Madrid: Espasa Libros.

Carminati, M. (2012). Velázquez’s Las Meninas. Milan: 24 ORE Cultura.

Foucault, M. (2012). The order of things: archaeology of the human sciences. New York: Pantheon Books.

Nottage, L. (2004). Las Meninas. New York: Dramatists Play Service.

Portús, J., & Morán, T. M. (2014).Velázquez: Las Meninas and the late royal portraits. New York: Thames & Hudson.

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