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The Family of Philip IV, or Las Meninas

  • ‘The Family of Philip IV or Las Meninas’ © Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

    ‘The Family of Philip IV or Las Meninas’ © Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

     
  

Category

Painting

Date

Around 1656

Cultural background

Spanish School

Original title

La familia de Felipe IV, o Las Meninas
Prado Museum
Madrid
Madrid
Madrid

This is Velázquez’s most famous painting and one of the world’s best-known works. It is remarkable for the skilful use of perspective and light, and for the representation of the atmosphere.

This portrait of the Infanta Margarita, daughter of Philip IV, surrounded by her servants or “family” in a hall in the Alcázar palace in Madrid has had numerous interpretations. One of the most widespread is that this is a defence of the supremacy of painting versus craftsmanship. Velázquez portrays himself in the act of painting the painting. The artist achieves an extraordinarily complex play of spatial relations by reflecting the King and Queen Philip IV and Mariana of Austria in the mirror at the back. The name “Las Meninas” refers to the ladies-in-waiting who are shown beside the Infanta.

Details of the work

Origin
Royal Collection

Object
Painting

Dimensions
318 cm x 276 cm

Technique
Oil

Material
Canvas

  

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