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Though access to Las Meninas was restricted —the picture was kept in the private apartments at the Alcázar— it soon attained the status of a masterwork. Its early fame is bound up with Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, Velázquez’s son-in-law, to whom a copy is attributed, and Luca Giordano.

The 18th century was a key period in the history of the critical reception of Las Meninas, as Spanish painters and intellectuals became interested in the art of previous centuries and sought to establish a tradition to identify themselves with. One of the prime examples of this phenomenon was Goya, who regarded Velázquez as a major referent and conducted an artistic dialogue with him that is apparent in many of his works.

Before 1800, Las Meninas stimulated the creation of important works of art and generated a high level of critical debate within the Spanish cultural sphere, but during the 19th century this interest spread to other countries and Velázquez’s picture became a real source of inspiration for European and American artists. This was due to the perception of Velázquez as a ‘naturalistic’ painter, in harmony with the realist spirit of the most advanced movements in art and literature of the time, and to his outstanding contribution to portrait painting, a genre of great interest to many 19th-century painters.

Though some say only Manet and Sargent internalized Velázquez’s art and took it as a guide for real innovation, the fact is that many fine painters were inspired by his work or copied, study or reinterpreted it. The list includes such well-known names as Wilkie, Degas, Renoir, Courbet, Millet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Chase, Whistler and Eakins.

Every age has made Las Meninas a reflection of its own concerns, and the 19th century was mainly interested in questions of technique, formulas of pictorial representation and how the artist resolved his art’s relationship with reality.



Between August and December 1957, Picasso carried out an analysis of Velázquez’s Las Meninas. The suite of fifty-eight works that Picasso donated to the Museu Picasso in 1968 consists of forty-four interpretations of the Velázquez picture, nine descriptions of the dovecote at his Villa La Californie studio in Cannes, three landscapes and two free interpretations: The Piano and Portrait of Jacqueline. Ten of the forty-four oils devoted to Las Meninas treat the original composition in its entirety.

Picasso’s interpretation of this painting is an exhaustive study of rhythm, colour and movement and constant play of imagination in which the artist metamorphosed the personalities of several of its components.

La interpretación picassiana de esta pintura constituye un exhaustivo estudio de ritmo, color y movimiento y un constante juego de imaginación en el que Picasso metamorfoseó las personalidades de varios de los componentes de la obra.

See also an interactive analysis of the series of Las Meninas,  +info  here



general view


La infanta Maria Teresa de España Mariana de Austria La infanta Margarita María
Martínez del Mazo
      La infanta Margarita de Austria
      Portrait of Inés de Zúñiga, condesa de Monterrey
      Sketch for The Day and the Night
  Las Meninas (infanta Margarita María) Las Meninas (María Agustina Sarmiento) Las Meninas (infanta Margarita María)


Reinas e Infantas Velázquez: un referente para Picasso Variaciones s.XX: iconografia Variaciones s.XX: el espacio Variaciones s.XX: el reflejo