‘As Meninas’ (The Children), immediately brings to mind one of the justifiably noted works of Velasquez. The imagery shown in this picture demonstrates the painter’s pride in the palette and brushes he used and also in the Cross of St. James in his hands. The work, dated in 1656, shows us the intimacy of the painter and his patrons, King Phillip The Fourth and Queen Mariana of Austria and their daughter, the tiny Infanta (Princess) Margarida. The scene is relatively banal: the king and queen posing for Velasquez but we cannot see the completed work, it is still in course on the easel and the sovereigns seem to be only indistinct images in a small mirror.
The attention is drawn, overwhelmingly, to the Infanta Margarida , her children and her dwarfs. Velasquez seems to check every brushstroke, every detail; why does he slightly turn the head? A certain ambiguity is discernable in these unclear images in the mirror-of a mystery on the canvas which will never be revealed. The separation between the painting and the viewer is removed; The assumed position of the king and queen, ready and posed and also of the painter himself! It is, therefore, possible for us to consider the subject of ‘As Meninas’ (The Children) as being summed up as follows; ‘This representation can be considered as representation at its purest’.
YVES BOTTINEUA, VELASQUES, FLAMMARION, PARIS, 1969, PGS.5-9.
(Free Translation by Patricia Vieira)