Art History

Art History

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.Considered along with LAS MENINAS to be one of the

most important masterpieces of DIEGO DE VELAZQUUEZ ,

as if final perido,this metological scene despits Minerra´s dispute

with Arachne over weaving abilities.Traditionally cosidered to

represent women working at the tapestry workshop of Santa

Isable but it now prored that it is mythological subject.It was

probably painted around 1657.The title of "THE SPINNERS",as

it ispopularly known,is a later invention and seems to have been

inspired by the women who are spinning in the foreground

they were workers in the Santa Isabel tapestry factory in

Madrid.This Velazquez painting, considered for a long

represent a generic theme,actually hides the depiction of a

mythological theme draped in the everyday labour of a tapstry

workshop.In the mid forties,sepcialists refused to interpet it as a simple

every day scen.Their doubt were clarified when reearcher Maria Luisa

Caturla brought to light aninventory in which an unknowed Velazquez´s

Fable of Arachae was mentioned,owned by huntsman to King Philip

4th,Don Pedro de Arcc.One of the problems that hindired the

identification of the subject lay in the fact that the work did not belong to

collections and documentary information existed about it.


The Fable of Archa,as related in Ovid´s Metamorphoese,tells how Minerva,goddess of

the arts and of war,competes with Arachne,famous for her skill in spinning in weaving

a tapestry.The young spinner was insolent enough to prevent in her work one of the

love advantures of the goddess father Jove,and by way of punishment,she was

transformed into a spider.


Even so,Velazquez had used Baroque recourse of inserting a picture within a picture

since he was a youngman, and he linked to reverse the order of important of the

story(i.e putting the trivial forward and the fundamental behind) This canvas was

added onto it in the 18th century,on the upper part and both sides.It is not know if this

aws done to restore it to its original state (it was thought to have suffered damage in

the Alcazar fire of 1734) or if it was simply and attempt to complete the scene to make

it larger.Certain scholar say it is an Apology of fine arts,intended to show the

superiority of the art of painting over the hand crafts, while others see it a Political

Allegory after Ripa´s Iconology.


The Spinning wheels turns rapidily showing the loose Velazquez technique.The

canvas was probable damaaged by the fire in the Alcazar(1734) and an upper s

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ection was added. An "arrepenrimento"can be appreciated in the head of the

girl in profile, represented in the right side of the painting.As a goddes of

ears in the backgroundin military dress.It is at the back of the work shop where

the fable is recounted;in the foreground we see the actual labour of the

workshop.Both space are graced with the magnificentand the meticulous use of

light and a freedom and loosen of brush strokes that make the painting one of the

most valueable of those predating Impressionism.The key painting by means of

the afrorementoned mythological story,accompained by a tapestry with the Rape

of Europr,by Titian painting as a declaraction of superiority of art over mere

manual dexterity.It has been in the Prado since 1819.
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