Bridesmaids Endless quests and riddles about Bellaskoth’s Bridesmaids



Endless quests and riddles about Bellaskoth’s “Bridesmaids”

The artist depicts the king’s family inside the court, so who honors the other?

“Bridesmaids” by Bellasquith (location of the Prado Museum in Madrid)

The late French thinker, about 40 years ago, Michel Foucault, was neither an art critic nor a historian in the field of culture. Specifically, he was a thinker based on the issue of knowledge and concrete psychological conditions to present very important works on “The History of Madness”, “The History of Sex” and so on.

However, it occurred to him to approach cinematic art or literature from time to time, in order to support his scientific theories. Not to mention that he was a great connoisseur of music and language.

But this is something and to build one of his most important and most famous books, “Words and Things,” starting from a first article in the book in which he focuses on a Spanish painting that goes back centuries and has no sex, madness, clinic or psychological dimensions, which is surprising, of course.

Whatever the case, we must first point out two basic issues related to this book, the first of which is that Foucault says in the introduction to the book itself that he wrote it inspired by the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, and the second is that the chapter devoted to the painting to which we referred was ranked tenth in the first editions of the book , but in the following editions its arrangement changed to become the first chapter in it, in addition to the fact that later popular editions of the same book soon carried a picture of the same painting on the cover.

The painting is “Las Meninas” by the Spanish painter Diego Bellascuz (1599-1660), which was one of the last to be painted, four years before his departure in 1660, and one of his largest paintings: 318 cm wide and 267 cm high, and it is hanging today In the Prado Museum of Madrid, where she is considered one of the museum’s stars and one of the most visited paintings in it.

Description pages pave the way for the “hidden” puzzle

It is really interesting in the opening chapter that Michel Foucault devotes to the painting, that we see him starting from the first line in a practical description of what we see in it, starting with “the painter retreating somewhat from the painting (he paints).

He looks at the model he paints and perhaps he wants to He puts a final touch, and perhaps the first line in the painting has not yet been drawn…”.

In this way Foucault goes on to describe what is happening over the course of nearly six pages in small letters before saying that it may be time to “unveil” the painter’s name.

Of course, for us here, our topic is not how a scholar of Foucault’s dynasty dealt with this classic artwork, but we will also not stop at the looks that the great artists of the last two centuries cast on this same painting and on the work of Belasqueth in general, including Picasso who redrawn it over and over again.

In his own way, in a kind of salute to the great master, or Edouard Manet, who, when he talks about the Spanish influences in his art, basically means what Bellaskwith left in his creative inventory, especially what this same painting left him.

What concerns us here specifically is this painting itself, especially on the aspect of its artistic splendor, on its strangeness and then on the many mysteries it holds, which always made those who look at it ask endless questions about it.

This is in addition to the uniqueness of the painting in terms of anticipating the modernity of contemporary visual arts, providing us with what we can consider today as a “painting within the painting” but more than this: A painting depicting how the great artist worked on his painting.

It is as if we are talking here in contemporary language about “the film within the film”, where the artist portrays himself in a portrait, depicting him while he is painting a portrait of himself.

Puzzles and questions

And here, before this turns into a kind of crossword puzzle full of intractable puzzles, we will simplify things to reasonable limits, recalling that the painting depicts the artist himself, Belasquith, squatting either in his studio or, more likely, in a room dedicated to him in the royal palace, where he had become He occupies the position of counselor at the court of King Philip IV, bent upon drawing a gigantic painting from which it is difficult for us to know what it will be in the end, and whether it is, when we see it only in part and from its back, a true painting of his.

However, if we look at what appears to be a mirror hanging on the back wall of the painting we are about to talk about, we will see in it a man and a woman reflected in a way that suggests either that they are drawn in the painting on which the artist is working, or that they are standing in a place where he is painting them, specifically our place as the spectators.

In fact, this double hypothesis was and still is popular, which suggests that the artist paints a double portrait of the supposed king and queen.

In order to complete this hypothesis, we can follow that the other people in the painting are members of the royal family, and we know from them the daughter Princess Margaret with her maids serving her while she is standing here watching the painter, as he does his work without missing the princess’s dog and her dwarf clown and other members of the court .

It is evident that, in the last years of his life, Belasqueth was accustomed to painting and to his two sons of great patriotism, hosting them, and not cease to work in their presence.

Impossible spontaneity

However, nothing seems to be spontaneous in the whole scene.

The theatrical installation is exactly the same here, starting from the arrangement of the audience next to the painter, down to the stand that the painter stands for.

It is natural that we are not here in the presence of a photographic camera that captures a spontaneous scene that it finishes in minutes, but rather in front of a work on an oil painting that takes months, which prompts the first question about how this painting was arranged during the months of work on it.

And this is for the first “puzzle”.

However, this remains technical, given that the “Bridesmaids” panel is loaded with questions, making the puzzle secondary.

In the first place, historians and critics have always wondered how the painter was able to draw a portrait of him within his own portrait? Then more important than this: What is the intended purpose of this painting? In what circumstances was it painted? In the same context, what could be the subject of the painted painting that we do not see?

From a technical point of view, researchers have always puzzled over the source of light that gives luster to certain areas in the painting, obscuring it from other areas?

Here, unlike Rembrandt or Caravaggio and to some extent Delature, there is no clear source of light as if the painter is painting in the open air!

In the end, if we are able to agree with some researchers that the painting is nothing but the highest honor that an artist presents to his king, can we not, on the other hand, say: Perhaps the king’s acceptance of adopting the painting also represents the highest honor offered by a ruler to an artist who adopted him and made him his own painter at the end of his life?

Art and the splendor of mystery

All this is possible and logical, but it will, in fact, remain a mystery that Michel Foucault did not seek to solve in any case. Rather, it was for him part of the hidden logic of art itself, a logic that, if it turns into a clear certainty, would make art lose some of its ambiguity, that is, some His splendor

We must note here that such ambiguity often characterized the great works of art, among them many paintings by Bellasquith himself, who lived and worked between Spain, his birthplace, where he was born to a family of nobles in Valencia of Portuguese origin, and he was at the age of 18 when he opened his first professional in his city On the 23rd, when he visited Madrid for the first time, he joined the court in 1623 to begin drawing paintings for the Royal Palace.

He met Rubens in 1628 in Madrid before touring several Italian cities, after which he returned to the royal court to achieve his masterpieces non-stop until his last years, which were made by a second visit to Rome, during which he painted his famous painting representing Pope Innocente X.

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