Diego Velázquez 1599-1660

Diego Velázquez
Painting Consciousness
Philip IV
Diego Velázquez. Self-Portrait. 1643.
on Velázquez
a) Court Painter in in the court of Philip IV
(Felipe IV).
b) “The Painter of the Painter”
a) “The Painter of Truth”; truth about painting
b) “The Painter of Subjectivity”: truth about the
Focus of study: Relate the two points above to
your reading of Las Meninas. Why do art critics
attribute those qualities to him and his work?
Questions 1
[Velázquez and The Puzzle of Double Painting]
What is being painted? And who is painting this?
1.1 Las Meninas is full of fascinating puzzles and strange twists. How "many" can you
point out? What is wrong/strange about the painting?
1.2 Look, closely and "deeply," at the logic of composition and representation:
its complexity and multiplicity. There is no one/single story in this painting.
This painting is a very confusing, multiple mirror-play. Note, first, simply, that every
one is looking at something; you are introduced to a theatre of gazes, of
1.3 Then try and figure out the positions of the people depicted in the painting, both
spatial (literal) and metaphorical (symbolic), especially the painter himself; see also
High Renaissance Painter Raphael's signature in La Fornaria (Italian,
1520; comparable to Michelangelo, David) and Ingres' imaginary double portrait,
Raphael and La Fornarina , 1814.
1.4 What functions do the frames/mirrors/doors in the painting serve? And what do
they mean?
Questions 2
[Velázquez and The Baroque]
2.1 What is Baroque Style? What is trompe-o'eil? How does it build on, and also depart
from, the Spirit of the Renaissance? Start by centring your thoughts and notes
around the humanism of the Renaissance; in Baroque arts, the difference or division
between reality and illusion is not clear-cut. The baroque complicates the senses of
identity by conflating the two.
2.2 Study some other intriguing images and figures from the European
Renaissance and Baroque Periods: How do they, altogether, embody the
spirit and style of the Periods?
Jan van Eyck (Flemish, 1395-1441, The Betrothal of the Arnolfini)
Dürer (German, 1471-1528, Portrait of a Boy with a long beard)
Bronzino (Italian, 1503-72, Allegory of Happiness; Venus, Cupide and the Time)
Arcimboldo (Italian, 1527-1593, The Cook; The Vegetable Gardener)
de Ribera (Spanish, 1591-1652, Bearded Woman)
Artemisia (Italian [finally a woman artist!] 1593 - 1652/1653, Judith Beheading Holofernes;
Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting)
Questions 3
[The Baroque and the Politics of Trompe-o'eil]
3.1 Baroque style is a political statement in itself: anti-Reformation.
Why? How? Start your investigation by reading the entry on
"baroque" in Web Gallery of Art.
3.2 Why must we study all this? What is all this analytic fuss about? It
is your job to articulate and judge the worth of studying these
materials: justify your position and do so intelligently.