Las Meninas (María Agustina Sarmiento)

Cannes, 10th October 1957
Oil on canvas
115 x 89 cm
Museu Picasso, Barcelona
MPB 70.471


In many works in the series, Picasso made studies of the ladies-in-waiting and dwarves, on their own or in small groups. He had already been captivated by the image of María Agustina Sarmiento handing a vase to the infanta on his visits to the Prado in the course 1897-1898, when he drew a partial representation of Las Meninas on part of a sheet from a sketchpad.

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.