Las Meninas Under an Artificial Light



Las Meninas Under an Artificial Light is an original reproduction of the painting of Velazquez’s Las Meninas by Felix de la Concha. As well as a meticulous copy is a study on interpretation and manipulation of an apparent reality.


Painted in oil in 140 papers of 9 by 12 inches, the fragments all toghether reconstruct the real size of the painting, 125 by 108 inches. (To which it has been added 12 inches at its left side that tries to reconstruct the hypothetical lost of the original in that side of the painting. Therefore the total measurement of this set is of 125 cm x 120 inches.


It has been reproduced with the patient task of a copyist and using the same oil technique than the original. But instead of doing it in front of the painting has been painted entirely from the study of Felix de la Concha in Iowa City. For this purpose, he used for reference the high-resolution reproduction of the Prado Museum’s painting available on the Internet. He has copied it looking at the image that a computer screen offers. This combination of a traditional technique and another digital shows up how has changed our vision and interpretation of reality in times of photographic reproduction. As well as the dialogue between the manual and the mechanical.


Google Earth in collaboration with the Prado Museum allow us to travel through its skin in even a greater detail than we are capable to appreciate in front of the picture if we go to Madrid, as if we could with a magnifying lens almost touch it across the length and breadth of the canvas. Another thing, of course, is the light under which it is contemplated, through so many color filters and contrasts.


In the book “America the Beautiful” Felix de la Concha writes:

“I was copying it into small pieces that together form a reproduction of a natural size of the painting. At the same time I wrote a diary about the process, which also helped me to reflect on the work and the pictorial process. The result of my copy is subordinated not only to my expertise as a copyist, but to all those filters unavoidable in any reproduction. Moreover in a thing that not only has been filtered by a camera, but by its download on the Web and by the screen of my monitor, which makes me come back to refer to that notion that we have of reality through its mechanical reproduction.


On the other hand I never get tired of visiting the Museo del Prado and contemplating Las Meninas when I go to Madrid. Which surely makes me belong to a more minority club than the 99 percent, of the ones that have seen it on flesh. And I would even dare to think that even that proportion of less than 99 percent would be also among those who at least know the work, even only through a copy. Because we think that, by popularity, it is like our Mona Lisa, but if we leave Spain it is easy to see that this is far from so.”[1]


[1] America, the Beautiful. Madrid, Iberoamericana Vervuert, 2014 ISBN 978-84-848-9769-9