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: The Painting
In the inventory of the Madrid Royal Alcazar begun by Mazo (Velazquez's assistant) in 1666 at the death of Philip IV, Mazo described Las Meninas as a large painting: "Portraying the Infanta Margarita with her ladies in waiting, and a female dwarf by the hand of Velazquez." (Quoted in: http://www.evl.uic.edu/chris/meninas/)

Infanta Margarita (1) appears at the center of the foreground of the painting surrounded by her entourage of maids of honor (3 and 2), chaperone (6), bodyguard (7), a female dwarf (4) and a midget, the Italian boy Nicolas Pertusato (5), who playfully tries to rouse a sleepy mastiff with his foot. Just behind them, to the left, Velázquez (9) portrays himself working at a large canvas. From the painter's belt hang the symbolic keys of his court offices (Honour, Hugh and John Fleming, 1982. A World History of Art. London: Macmillan. p. 449).


In the background of the painting there is a mirror that reflects the upper bodies of the king (10) and queen (11). They appear to be placed outside the picture space in a position similar to that of the viewer. In the rear of the painting to the right of the mirror stands Don José Nieto Velázquez (8)—the queen's chamberlain during the 1650s, and head of the royal tapestry works—who may have been a relative of the artist. Nieto is shown pausing, with his right knee bent and his feet on different steps. He is rendered in silhouette and appears to hold open a curtain on a short flight of stairs, with an unclear wall or space behind. The vanishing point of the painting's perspective is in the doorway. Joel Snyder (June 1985) in his article: Las Meninas and the Mirror of Prices. Critical Inquiry 11 (4) pp. 539–72, claims that Nieto was the queen's attendant and was required to be at hand to open and close doors for her.

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Diego Velazquez's Las Meninas
Fig. 2. Key to the people represented in Las Meninas.
George Konstantinidis