The Spanish Language Blog

One of the most famous Spanish paintings

Las Meninas was created by Spanish painter Diego Velázquez. One of the most famous Spanish painters of the golden age, he created many portraits of the Spanish royal family. The Dutch name for Las Meninas is De Hofdames.


Born in Seville, Diego Velázquez began painting at a very young age. At 12, Velázquez was an apprentice painter with Francisco Pacheco. When he moved to Madrid in 1622, he attracted the attention of Spain's King Philip IV.

In 1629, Velázquez left for Italy for a year and a half to study his classical predecessors. All at the expense of Spanish King Philip IV. Upon his return, Velázquez became the court painter of the Spanish royal house. In 1649, he went to Italy again, but this time to procure art for King Philip IV.

Las Meninas is one of the first modern Spanish paintings. A modern painting makes you think about everything on the canvas.

At the center of the painting is the Spanish princess, she was the apple of the family's eye, and at the time the only living child of King Philip IV. It is unusual for a princess to be the center of a painting. At the time the painting was made, princesses were often married to cousins or uncles in the family, to ensure that there was a male heir to the throne.

Everything on the life-size canvas makes the viewer think. For example, the painter has depicted himself, at work, on the canvas. It looks like he is painting Las Meninas. This is not the only thing that makes the viewer think. For example, all the persons in the painting, are looking outside the painting. There is also a mirror painted on the canvas. In this mirror the faces of the royal couple can be seen. The viewer is like the royal couple, we look out over the artist's studio, and the viewer is portrayed.

The main question all this raises is, am I looking at the painting or is the painting looking at me? Find out the answer for yourself during a visit at the Prado Museum in Madrid.

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