Las Meninas (infanta Margarita María)

Cannes, 14th September 1957
Oil on canvas
100 x 81 cm
Donated by the artist, 1968
Museu Picasso, Barcelona
MPB 70.459


The Infanta Margarita, the central personage of Velázquez’s Las Meninas, is also a protagonist in the series by Picasso, who devoted fourteen paintings exclusively to the study of the princess. Intrigued by the dissociation of the girl’s gaze -her eyes are turned toward the king and queen though she still faces in the direction of the dwarf Nicolasito Pertusato- Picasso translated the subtle dislocations of Velázquez’s picture into the language of modernity by way of a set of plane geometric forms and the disarticulation of the face in order to heighten the contrast and accentuate the dual intent of the gaze.

Here you can see a more detailed and interactive analysis of this work and more images of the series.

Pablo Picasso

Málaga, 1881 – Mougins, 1973

In June 1895 he first visited the Prado museum with his father. In his sketchbook he made a copy of Velázquez’s The Buffoon Calabacillas and Niño de Vallecas. At his father’s prompting he enrolled at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid for 1897-1898. He soon became distanced from the Academy, preferring to frequent the Prado, where he applied for permission to copy the pictures. There is a notable copy in oils of a portrait of Philip IV by Velázquez, and a page of sketches with a copy of The Fable of Arachne and a partial copy of Las Meninas, also by Velázquez. During his second stay in Madrid, in 1901, he painted Woman in Blue, a clear reference to Velázquez’s Mariana of Austria (Museo del Prado), and presented it at the Exposición General de Bellas Artes that year. In the summer of 1935 he travelled in Spain, and in Madrid visited the Prado again. In November 1936 the government appointed him honorary director of the Prado. Between August and December 1957, at La Californie (Cannes), he painted the series Las Meninas, that were donated by the artist himself to the Museu Picasso of Barcelona in 1968.