|The little Princess asks for a drink of water; a maid of honor hands it to her with the elaborate etiquette prescribed by the formalities of the most rigidly ceremonious Court in Europe.|
The Story of “Las Meninas”
How One of Velázquez's Notable Pictures Came To Be Painted
The story of "Las Meninas" is that Velasquez was painting a portrait of the Spanish King and Queen (who sat where the spectator is when he looks at the picture). Their little daughter, the Infanta Margarita, came in with her maids of honor, her dog and her dwarfs, accompanied by her duena and a courtier. The little Princess asks for a drink of water; a maid of honor hands it to her with the elaborate etiquette prescribed by the formalities of the most rigidly ceremonious Court in Europe.
The scene presented so charming a picture, that the King desired Velasquez to paint it. The artist has included himself in the group at work upon a large canvas on which it is supposed he was painting a portrait of the King and Queen when the interruption occurred. The reflection of the King and Queen appears in the mirror at the end of the room, and the Chamberlain, Don Jose Nieto, stands outside the door drawing the curtain. The scene is, indeed, represented with such wonderful realism that a famous French critic said of it, "So complete is the illusion that, standing in front of 'Las Meninas' one is tempted to ask, ‘Where is the picture?'" —St. Nicholas, Madera Mercury, 1905
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