Las Meninas, Velasquez, 1656

Velasquez was the court painter of Phillip IV of Spain. The little girl in the centre of the picture is the 5 year old Infanta of Spain, Phillip’s only living heir, and Velasquez standing at the back on the left by his easel is painting her picture. The two girls are her ladies in waiting. At the front and to the right are two dwarfs who are her playmates, one of whom is playfully pushing on her dog, At the back, the man in the doorway, is the man who organizes the palace. In the mirror are the queen and king of Spain. This is then, a family portrait before there were cameras.

  1. Has your family ever had pictures done by a photographer? Describe the experience. Where is the picture displayed, if at all? Who got copies of the result?
  2. If you were the Infanta, you would know you are very important. In your own family, tell how you know that you are important- clothes, favourite foods, pets, friends.
  3. Select a character from the painting, and write an imaginative story about who they are, and how they came to be in the picture, including what will happen next.
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