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Why Is This Painting So Captivating? - James Earle And Christina Bozsik

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Velazquez’s Las Meninas is a 1656 painting, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Las Meninas (Spanish for the Maids of Honor) is a portrait of Infanta Margarita, the daughter of King Philip IV, and his second wife Mariana of Austria. The painting's complex and enigmatic composition is an excellent example of how great works of art are made. Las Meninas allows the spectator to freely interact with the painting’s various contradictory points of view and therefore offers him a fuller understanding of the painting’s emotional and intellectual depth. Infanta Margarita has dropped in to see Velazquez at work. She stops right next to him, at the center of the foreground of the painting, but she seems perplexed. Velazquez spotted Infanta Margarita’s psychological perplexity in front of the large window of his studio and analyzed her behavior. Picasso’s recreation of Las Meninas (1957) portrayed Infanta Margarita’s perplexity in a highly expressionistic and masterful manner. There is a peculiar strangeness (paradox) in Las Meninas. Infanta Margarita is definitely not posing for her portrait. Next we see that the King and the Queen are reflected in the back wall mirror of his studio. Therefore we assume that Velazquez is painting the portrait of the royal couple who is standing behind his easel. But as we look deeper we discover that Infanta Margarita is the center of attention and focus of Las Meninas.

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