Las Meninas is one of my favorite paintings. It was painted in 1656 by Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez – you gotta love Spanish names. It’s a large family portrait (125.2 in × 108.7 in) and it hangs by itself at the end of a short room in the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Go to this link and zoom in to check it out and better understand what I’m about to say about it.
One of the numerous odd features of Las Meninas is that Velázquez himself is a character in the painting. (He’s in the foreground at the left, looking out from behind a canvas at us, the viewers.)
Scholars have debated the picture’s composition, its characters, its purpose – but the truth is that Las Meninas is mysterious.
So, now I’ll segue to a question: How’s your book coming along?
Are you, the author “in the picture”? Do you look out from the pages at the reader and challenge them to look back and see the art, the illusion, life?
Do you tell the reader’s own story back to them?
Or do you tell them your story, non-fiction after all? I sometimes wonder what would happen if I could press a magic button so that the characters in Las Meninas would come to life. I wonder what story they would tell. And would Velázquez have to make a quick exit to get out of their way so they could tell it?
Or would the story, in the end, be about him, the one who painted them?
After all, all portraits are really about the artist, aren’t they? And all stories are really about the author.