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WEA Talk - Diego Velazquez

If you go to the Prado in Madrid, there is one painting which creates more than a buzz than all the others. It’s a funny place, the Prado, a little stuffy: the best paintings there are from the Spanish court painters Velazquez and Goya. I prefer Goya’s work - there’s something intriguingly dark about his later canvases, and something which pre-echoes the surrealist movement, too. But Velazquez, who painted over a hundred years earlier than his compatriot, in the 17th century, was a vital stepping stone for Goya to get where he did, and it’s his painting which creates the buzz.

You probably know it. It’s called Las Meninas. It is a self portrait of the painter, seen from the eyes of the people he is painting. These are the king and queen of Spain, who you can only see in miniature in the background of the frame, reflected in a mirror. In the near foreground you can see their daughter, who is having a strop because she doesn’t want to pose with them. Two ladies-in-waiting (Meninas) are trying to coax her to stand in the right place; a court dwarf has been brought to try to cheer her up. She is clearly only making things worse. You can sense the little girl’s parents’ indignation about her behaviour, and the painter’s wry enjoyment of the situation. In the far background a mysterious figure waits in the doorway. Las Meninas is Velazquez’ masterpiece, and will certainly be mentioned by the ever-entertaining art expert Bryan Davies in what should be a fascinating illustrated talk. AL

Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez

Southover Grange, WEA Day School
When? 2-5pm
How Much? £10
(t) 01273 476206