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Monday, 20 May 2013

Act 2, Scene 6

The narrative began with Act 1, scene 1 on April 10, 2013.
To access all scenes, scroll to blog archive at the bottom of the page.

Picasso (takes a sip of wine, tapping the rim of his glass and nodding to Newkirk – he's ready for a refill – brings a cloth napkin to his mouth)

Very nice wine. So. About your painting Diego. In my opinion, the answer is obvious. We see the royal couple in the mirror, yes? It reflects their presence in the scene. And we have established that they are standing on this side of the picture plane, in the viewer's space. The mirror reflects the king and queen. It does not reflect you or me, although I grant that a viewer might conceivably be standing to one side. Nevertheless, Diego, you are staring out of the painting, toward the space on this side of the picture plane, and you certainly would not be looking at me, or at any other viewer or invisible sitter while the royals are standing right there! If the king and queen were there to visit your studio to see what you were working on, why would they not be standing or seated somewhere with a view of the painting you are making? I rather doubt that you would make such a large painting of yourself, as some have suggested, or that although we see the royals in one mirror, that there is another placed beside them that you are studying as you paint a self portrait. No, I must believe that you would not indulge in such things with them in the studio. And finally, you are not painting the infanta Margarita, although we know that you did make a fine painting of her as well, in the same costume she wears in Las Meninas, and that you did several other paintings of her in different costumes. However, the portrait of her in this costume is quite a small one – only about a metre high.

The Infanta Margarita, 1656

And you are not looking at her, Diego. No. Perhaps she is there with her entourage, ready to pose for you when you have set aside what we see you working on. Or maybe she has already done so. We cannot establish a timeline with certainty. But, as I said before, you are looking at the king and queen. You are also painting on a very large canvas. It's only logical that they are the subject of that painting.

Picasso, knife and fork poised over his plate, looks across the table at Velazquez, and resumes eating his dinner with relish.
Let's see. Have I missed anything? I don't think so. What do you say, Diego; have I divined an answer to your mystery?

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Historically accurate anecdotes are especially welcome.