Velazquez’s most famous painting is Las Meninas (above), which shows the daughter of the new queen of Spain having her portrait made by Velazquez, who paints himself at the easel over on the left. Paintings reacting to this painting have been done by Goya, Picasso, and Dali, among others. John Singer Sargent painted a copy of Las Meninas and later used a similar composition in his monumental Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. The French philosopher Michel Foucault centers the opening chapter of his The Order of Things around Las Meninas’ exploration of the problems of representation through the depiction of screens (such as that on the left of the painting) and mirrors (such as the one at the back center, showing the reflection of the royal couple viewing the proceedings). The modernism of Velazquez’s composition belies the 17th century dress of his subjects.
Each generation rediscovers Velazquez and embraces him over and over again, ensuring that his vision will always live on.