Why Diego Velázquez’s "Las Meninas" Continues to Inspire New Interpretations

As part of Sotheby’s Most Famous Artworks in the World series, this episode of Anatomy of an Artwork explores Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas, now located in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Painted in 1656 at the Royal Alcázar of Madrid, this large scale masterpiece contains an enigmatic configuration of illusions and codes that invite new interpretations centuries later. The viewer is first drawn to a brightly painted figure of a young girl, but upon a closer inspection other focal points emerge. Velázquez includes himself in a rare self-portrait that when coupled with a mirror in which King Philip IV and his wife Mariana are reflected creates a ricochet of perspectives. This interplay of light and reflection has led scholars to describe Velásquez as “almost postmodern”.

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