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Why is this painting so captivating? - James Earle and Christina Bozsik


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On first glance, the painting “Las Meninas” (“The Maids of Honor”) might not seem terribly special, but it’s actually one of the most analyzed pieces in the history of art. Why is this painting by Diego Velazquez so captivating? James Earle and Christina Bozsik share the context and complexity behind this work of art.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Diego Velazquez (June 6, 1599 ­ August 6, 1660) was a Spanish painter who was hired by Philip IV at the age of 25. You can learn more about his life here. Interested in learning more about Velazquez’s life as a court painter? This site describes his work. 

When Philip IV inherited power in 1621 Spain was a massive empire, but by the time he died in 1665, Spain’s power and influence had dramatically decreased. For a fair assessment of his life and reign, visit this link.

While, Diego Velazquez plays with the tension of the ideal and reality within his painting "Las Meninas," the style in which he paints, depicts his subjects in a realistic manner. For more information on the style which Velazquez employs, you can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art website and look at some of his amazing portraits.

Want to interact with one of Velazquez’s paintings?  Here is an interactive image provided by The Prado Museum, where "Las Meninas" hangs.  It has been developed for interested visitors to explore. Interact with the masterpiece for yourself and read more about "Las Meninas."

Interested in learning more about Spanish Baroque art? The Khan Academy site is a good place to start.  It has some great information which includes another video about "Las Meninas."

Like what you have learned from this lesson? The educator has similar art history videos posted at this site.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator James Earle, Christina Bozsik
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Producer Zedem Media
  • Director Michael Kalopaidis
  • Artist Jeanne Bornet
  • Animator Maria Savva
  • Sound Designer Andreas Trachonitis
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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