Most commonly, an in-depth research paper on Diego Velázquez begins by discussing the artist's painting The Maids of Honor and also the significance of it.
Velázquez's painting The Maids of Honor is also known by most people as Las Meninas and has been called "the theology of painting" because of its magnificence and contribution to the world of painting. The word menina is of Portuguese derivation meaning "maid of honor". It was painted in 1656 in oil on canvas with the dimensions 10' 5 ½ X 9'1" (380 x 276 cm) and belongs to the period known as the Spanish Baroque.
Velázquez Painting Styles
Velázquez did not commit to one style, like his contemporaries; he was a genius of the Spanish baroque, as well as European. "His synthesis of the natural and the intellectual in the same painting are unique and free flowing; even Velázquez's sinister and gloomy masterpieces mix the scientific rationalism typical of the 17th century". Baroque paintings were characterized by the following:
- Baroque styles merged with architecture in ways that made it hard to distinguish which was which.
- The effect was like that of theater, "where the real space of a stage, the painted scenery, and costumed actors who move and speak create a compound illusion with the qualities of life itself".
Las Meninas is a near perfect depiction of this characterization. This painting is considered to be Velázquez's masterpiece and one of the finest oil paintings in existence. Its significance may mark the final glory of a slowly weakening Spain or showing that with the Infanta, there was a ray of hope. The painting reveals the royal family of King Philip IV and Queen Mariana of Spain. There are eleven figures in the painting with a focus on the Infanta Margarita and her maids of honor. The artist painted himself into the painting and included two court dwarves who lived in the castle, a reflection of the king and queen in a mirror (some critics say it is a reflection of what is on Velázquez's canvas) and three other court members.
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