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Las Mininas. VELASQUEZ.

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Las Meninas. Velasquez.

Ou la Famille de Philippe IV

(En espagnol Las meninas, ou La familia de Felipe IV)

Painting by Diego Vélasquez (circa 1656).

Oil on canvas, 318 × 276 cm. Prado Museum, Madrid.

This painting represents, among various relatives of the Spanish court, the Infanta Margarita with two bridesmaids - "menines" in Portuguese - and the artist himself painting the royal couple - located in our place of spectators. and whose image is reflected in the back mirror. For four centuries, the work has aroused surprise, fascination and admiration. Painted four years before the death of Diego Vélasquez, this large canvas will directly inspire Francisco de Goya, Édouart Manet and, above all, Pablo Picasso. The scene, captured as a photographic snapshot, the indecisive and daring technique - and above all the composition - make this work a sort of pictorial manifesto. Michel Foucault, considering that the subject has been "elided", declares about this painting: "The representation can be given as pure representation. »No source, no model could be compared with this work, whose argument - in the theatrical sense - is the visit of the Infanta Marguerite to her parents in the painter's studio, located in the old town. apartment of Prince Baltasar Carlos in the Alcazar. The distance from the painter's gaze leads him, beyond appearances, to grasp human nature in its essence. The themes of the mirror and the paintings in the painting, taken from Flemish painting of the 16th century, each contribute to the construction of the work - it is the reflection of the royal couple that disturbs the space of the spectator suddenly associated with the canvas - and with the orientation of meaning. The two works on the wall are Pallas and Arachne by Petrus Paulus Rubens and Apollo and Marsyas by Jacob Jordaens - two stories from Ovid's Metamorphoses. The legend of Arachne is precisely the subject of a work - painted the same year as the Meninas - the Spinners, which could illustrate the complex links maintained between reality and its representation. Apollo and Marsyas poses, on another register, that of inspiration and the Platonic myth, the problem of the power of creation. The two works invite to orient the reading of the painting in directions quite other than those of the pure portrait, and would illustrate the daring definition that Vélasquez gave of his art.

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