Velazquez- Las Meninas: Analysis and Interpretation
Diego Velazquez
Velazquez's selfportrait
Velazquez’s Las Meninas is a portrait of Infanta Margarita, the daughter of King Philip IV. This article focuses on the way Velazquez painted Infanta Margarita’s psychological perplexity in front of the large window of his studio. It also focuses on Infanta Margarita’s beauty, her intelligence, and above all her interest in the beauty of the visible world!
Las Meninas
By Diego Velazquez

Velazquez - Las Meninas: Analysis
Las Meninas disorients us, shakes us away from our customary (fixated) appreciation of portraiture as a specific craft. It liberates our mind so that we will be able to better understand and appreciate the story (plot) which is embedded in the painting. In other words Las Meninas transfers us from the domain of craftsmanship to a more literary approach to painting. In Las Meninas, Velazquez did not renounce craftsmanship; he simply claimed that painting is above all an art which promotes our aesthetic and intellectual capabilities. The large size of the painting includes the viewer in its frame. Svetlana Alpers (1983) rightfully suggests that the size of the figures in the painting is a match for our own. Therefore the painting has a direct impact not only on our eyes but on our bodies as well. Its perspective whose vanishing point is the doorway, straight ahead of the viewer’s eye, enhances the virtual reality of the scene. The scene was not staged. Most likely, Velazquez observed Margarita’s behavior as she entered his studio with her maids of honor and instantly grabbed and froze in his mind the moment which he thought represented her personality most. He was a master portrait painter with a lot of experience. See for example his portrait of Pope Innocent X (fig. 7). He was not only a good craftsman. He was also an intellectual who could see very deeply into his subject’s motives, desires, and overall character. “The great portrait of Pope Innocent X shows such ruthlessness in Innocent's
expression that some in the Vatican feared that Velázquez would meet with the Pope's displeasure, but Innocent was well pleased with the work, hanging it in his official visitor's waiting room.” (Quoted in:

Velazquez’s efforts to elevate the art of painting into the status of a liberal art were not in vain. He knew very well that it was a matter of time for him to achieve his goal. Two years after he painted Las Meninas he began his campaign for the knighthood, being absolutely convinced that his nobility was based, above everything else, on the nobility of his art work. He received the Red Cross of the Order of Santiago in 1659, three years after Las Meninas was completed. According to Palomino, Philip IV ordered this to be added after Velázquez's death, "and some say that his Majesty himself painted it." (Antonio Palomino (1724). Quoted in: Kahr, Madlyn Millner. "Velazquez and Las Meninas". The Art Bulletin 57(2) (June 1975): 225–246).

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Diego Velazquez's Las Meninas Portrait of Pope Innocent X, by Diego Velázquez (1650). Roma, Galleria Doria-Pampili.
Fig. 7. Portrait of Pope Innocent X, by Diego Velázquez (1650). Roma, Galleria Doria-Pampili.
Diego Velazquez Portrait of Pope Innocent X
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Diego Velazquez's Las Meninas Portrait of Pope Innocent X, by Diego Velázquez (1650). Roma, Galleria Doria-Pampili.
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