Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things I Like: Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez

Las Meninas

I remember many an afternoon on childhood visits to South Georgia sitting by my grandmother on her bed as she played solitaire. Above her bed hung a copy of the painting Las Meninas by Spanish painter Diego Velázquez.

My grandmother told me that the little princess in the painting was me, that the ladies waiting on her were my aunts, and that she herself was represented by the dwarf on the right-hand side. I had no trouble envisioning myself as royalty and I had blonde hair, so her claim seemed quite reasonable to me. I'm not sure at what point I figured out that I was not Velázquez's subject, but by that time I was so enamored of the painting, that it was of little consequence.

In 2002 Robert and I were to depart from Barcelona after a Mediterranean cruise. We had several choices of cities for our connecting flight back to the States, and I selected Madrid so that I could have the opportunity to see Las Meninas in person.

In Madrid we stayed at the Hotel Palace, a fabulously elegant hotel directly across the square from the Museo del Prado where Las Meninas, is housed.

France, Spain and Italy 2002 142
Here I am outside the Palace, looking nowhere near as effortlessly chic as the European woman behind me

Just off the hotel's lobby is a restaurant/bar area under a spectacular stained glass cupola.

France, Spain and Italy 2002 146

This picture from the hotel web site gives a better idea of the scale of the dome - magnificent!

The morning after arriving in Madrid, Robert and I were at the Prado when its doors opened.

France, Spain and Italy 2002 148

As the masterpiece of the Prado, Las Meninas is prominently displayed in a room of Velázquez's works. I was unprepared for how large the painting was! (I suppose I envisioned it in the much smaller version I had seen at my grandparents' house.)


I don't think photographs were allowed in the Prado because I did not get a picture showing its scale (found the one above on the Internet) and the requisite picture of me with the object of my pilgrimage (below) is really bad and must have been hurriedly and illicitly taken or I surely would have insisted that Robert retake it

France, Spain and Italy 2002 150

Between its size and its grandeur, Las Meninas was breathtaking and well worth the pilgrimage to see in person.

An added bonus was the opportunity to acquire a copy of the painting for my own home.



JoAnn said...

Great story! That painting sure has a lot going on in it...

I have a really important question...what do you do with all of the pillows on your bed when you go to bed at night? I have never been able to find a good "home" for mine.

fleur de lis cottage said...

What a sweet story between you and your grandmother. What a great trip and the's magnificent!!

KK said...

Oh, my grandmother had a copy of this painting in her house too!

Erin said...

I loved this! I love the way you word thngs Eloise! ("...nowhere near as effortlessly chic as the Euorpean woman"! Ha Ha!) Thanks for the bit of beauty!

Unknown said...

Wait, Baba told me that I was the princess in the painting!

Amber M. said...

What a fun story!! I'm so glad you're carrying on the tradition.

I'm not a huge Spanish art fan (I studied more Northern Renaissance and Greek/Roman in college), but I have a reverant respect for Velazquez. And this painting in particular.

Maggie said...

I love the painting AND your bed pillows--beautiful fabric!

Emily said...

I think you are the only other person that I have met that loves this painting as much as I do. I too was in Madrid in 2002 and saw Las Meninas at the Prado. It took my breath away when I saw it for the first time. It is truly one of the highlights of visiting the Prado. I also think I managed to sneak a picture of my in front of it too:)

Tami said...

I love this story and how it has come full circle to you having the painting above your bed.

Maybe some day you will have a sweet grand baby to be the princess in the painting.

Anonymous said...

I always had a special place for Las Meninas also. I love that you got a print for above your bed.

And isn't it amazing how European women nail "effortlessly chic" every. single. time. ???