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“Las Meninas” or “The Ladies-in-Waiting” by Diego Velázquez

The Ladies-in-Waiting by Diego Velázquez

The Ladies-in-Waiting by Diego Velázquez

“Las Meninas” or “The Ladies-in-Waiting” by Diego Velázquez is a complex and mysterious composition which, when studied, creates an ambiguous relationship between the audience and the various subjects in this painting.

The complex arrangement of Las Meninas has made this painting one of the most analyzed masterpieces in Western art.

“Las Meninas” depicts a room in The Royal Alcázar of Madrid. It was a fortress located at the site of today’s Royal Palace of Madrid, during the reign of King Philip IV of Spain.

The figures in the painting are all real historical members of the Spanish court.

The young Infanta Margaret Theresa is in the center of her entourage of maids of honor, chaperone, bodyguard, two dwarfs, and a dog. 

Infanta was the title for the daughter of the ruling monarch of Spain, especially the eldest daughter, who was not heir to the throne.

To the left, Velázquez, the artist of this masterpiece, portrays himself working on a large canvas and looks outwards, towards us.

Just behind Infanta on the left, there is a mirror that reflects the king and queen. Is it reflections of the king and queen observing this scene?

Or is it a representation of Velázquez’s painting that we can not be seen. To the rear through the door stands the queen’s chamberlain and head of the royal tapestry works.

Perspective is the secret to this masterpiece. It creates a feeling of depth. The use of light also creates different focal points as well as adding definition to the subjects.

Las Meninas has long been recognized as one of the most important paintings in Western art history. Many famous artists have studied this painting and referenced it.

In 1957, Pablo Picasso painted a series of 58 interpretations of Las Meninas, which currently fills the Las Meninas room of the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain.

Amongst the many famous artists who have referenced this masterpiece are Francisco Goya, John Singer Sargent, and Salvador Dalí.

Diego Velázquez

Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660) was a Spanish painter, who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV, and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age.

Velázquez’s artwork from the first quarter of the nineteenth century was a model for the realist and impressionist painters, in particular, Édouard Manet.

Many modern artists, including Picasso and Dalí, have paid tribute to Velázquez by recreating several of his most famous works.

Las Meninas – The Ladies-in-Waiting or The Maids of Honour

  • Title:                        The Ladies-in-Waiting or The Maids of Honour
  • Spanish:                   Las Meninas
  • Artist:                      Diego Velázquez
  • Year:                        1657
  • Medium:                 oil on canvas
  • Dimensions            318 × 276 cm (125.2 × 108.7 in)
  • Type:                       History Painting
  • Museum:                Prado Museum, Museo del Prado

Diego Velázquez

Las Meninas: Is This The Best Painting In History?

A Tour of History Paintings

Las Meninas: Why is this painting so captivating?

A Tour of the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas

Velázquez, Las Meninas


“A human will only grasp the realm of a parent’s love when he experiences for himself the like.”
– Diego Velázquez


Photo Credit: Diego Velázquez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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