Laura Cummings has written a newly published book about Velazquez and the power of his painting.
She writes in The Guardian about how Las Meninas affected her, and led her to write a book of praise about Velazquez. Here are the best parts:
“The painting I saw that day seems to hold death back from the brink, even as it acknowledges our shared human fate. It shows the past in all its mortal beauty, but it also looks forward into the flowing future. Because of Velázquez, these long-lost people will always be waiting for us in the Prado; they will never go away, as long as we hold them in sight. Las Meninas is like a chamber of the mind, a place where the dead will never die.”
“To respect these portraits is to respect these people. And this depth is not an illusion. The mystery of Velázquez’s art is not just that his paintings are both dazzling and profoundly moving all at once, but that these apparent opposites coincide to the extent that one feels neither can exist without the other. The truth of life, of our brief walk in the sun, has to be set down in a flash of brilliant brush strokes that are almost disappearing. The image, the person, the life: all are here now but on the edge of dissolution. It is the definition of our human existence.”
What I like best here are these thoughts about portraits and those they portray:
“They will never go away, as long as we hold them in sight.”
“The truth of life, of our brief walk in the sun, has to be set down in a flash of brilliant brush strokes that are almost disappearing.”