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AH297 Baroque Art and Architecture Fall Semester 2019

Prof. Laura Foster

Critical Issues in Baroque Art and Architecture:


The Case of Diego Velàzquez’ Las Meninas

Diego Velàzquez’ painting Las Meninas (1656) is one of the most studied and intensely
debated works of Western Art. The painting, a royal portrait with the daughter of King Philip
IV, Infanta Margarita, at its center, has been the subject of numerous and diverse
interpretations, especially regarding the very nature of visual representation.

This short paper will analyze two works of scholarship on Las Meninas, taken from the list
below. The paper will provide a summary of the scholars’ arguments regarding the
painting and will discuss the authors’ methods of analysis.

The purpose of the paper is to explore methods of interpretation, not to determine whether the
scholars are “right” or “wrong” in their approaches, or whether or not you agree with their
conclusions. You should evaluate critically, however, what aspects of the painting are
included in the authors’ analyses, and what aspects may have been ignored.

Take careful notes and begin writing a draft of the paper for Tuesday. We will then discuss
the texts together in class, after which you may wish to revise your paper before uploading it
to the course Moodle page.

Turn page over for list of works


List of Works

Michel Foucault, “Las Meninas: The Prose of the World,” in The Order of Things : An
Archaeology of the Human Sciences. Vintage books ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.
(On library reserve)

Leo Steinberg, “Velázquez' ‘Las Meninas.’” October 19 (1981): 45–54. Available through
JSTOR database.

Svetlana Alpers, “Interpretation Without Representation, or, the Viewing of Las Meninas.”
Representations 1, no. 1 (1983): 30–42. Available through JSTOR database.

Byron Ellsworth Hamann, “The Mirrors of Las Meninas: Cochineal, Silver, and Clay.” The
Art Bulletin 92, no. 1-2 (2010): 6–35. Available through JSTOR database.

Walter D. Mignolo, “Las Meninas: A Decolonial Response.” Art Bulletin 92, no. 1/2 (2010).
Available through JSTOR database.