The Easel

Velázquez’s Las Meninas: A detail that decodes a masterpiece

A new hypothesis about Velázquez’s masterpiece. A study of life at the opulent but declining Spanish Hapsburg court, it has long been acclaimed for being a “riddle”, a painting of hidden meanings. New research reinforces this narrative by revealing that an earthen pot being offered to the princess had hallucinogenic as well as cosmetic properties. What Velázquez painted was a meditation on the “hereness of here … the inevitable evaporation of self.”