Precursor of Las Meninas may have been hanging in National Trust property for 150 years
The Guardian, October 2, 2013–Diego Velazquez’s portrait of the Infanta Margaret Theresa and her entourage takes pride of place in the Prado museum in Madrid, where it is seen by millions of visitors. Innumerable artists have been inspired by it; Pablo Picasso became so obsessed he painted 58 versions in one year alone. Arguments abound as to the exact meaning of the painting, which, with its use of angles, reflections, and multiple interpretations, creates an unsettling relationship between viewer and subject. On Wednesday, Las Meninas, or the Maids of Honour, provoked the latest argument in its 357-year history.
At an event that was as much a social occasion as an art lecture, hundreds of guests gathered at Spain’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts to hear one of Spain’s most respected art historians argue that an original draft of the painting, long believed by experts to be a copy, has in fact been hanging in a National Trust property in Dorset for more than 150 years.
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