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Art and Images in Psychiatry
February 07, 2011

Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor)

Author Affiliations
 

JAMES C.HARRISMD

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(2):124-125. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.201

Suppose one were to make a literal copy of [Velázquez’s] “The Maids of Honor”; if it were I . . . Almost certainly I would be tempted to modify the light or arrange it differently . . . sure to horrify the specialists . . . It would be my Maids of Honor. —Picasso to Sabartes1(p2)

No painting had greater historical and personal meaning to Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) than Diego Velázquez's 1656 masterpiece The Maids of Honor (Las Meninas).2 He first witnessed it as a 14-year-old adolescent when his father, an art teacher, took him to the Prado Museum in Madrid to examine the works of the great Spanish artists. The visit was at a critical time in Picasso's artistic development. Within 2 years, despite his youth, he was accepted for entry into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. While an art student in 1897, Picasso completed his first sketch of the 2 central maids of honor, Isabel de Velasco and María Agustina.3(p152)

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