|Courtesy of www.diego-velazquez.org|
The Infanta Margarita, born on July 12, 1651, was the daughter of Philip IV and Queen Mariana. She married Emperor Leopold I of Germany on December 12, 1666, and died on March 12,1673. Since it is
generally believed that this is the first of several portraits of the Infanta that Velazquez painted, and that she was approximately three years old at the time, the work has been dated 1654 or, at
the earliest, 1653.
Despite the formalities of the Spanish court that dictated that farthingales hold supple waists in rigid submission, and that royal children be outfitted with showy costumes, Velazquez was able to penetrate the intimate and fragile lives of his young sitters - he conveys their awkwardness and restraint, and even a hint of the spirited outbursts that would follow once the sitting was over. It is in his ability to capture, during such changeable and practically intangible episodes, the instantaneousness of a fleeting expression or of a furtive glance that truly reveals the character of the young model - not what comes across in a pose, but how the child really is - that Velazquez demonstrates his extraordinary gift for ultrasensitive perception. Here, the artist has placed his model next to a bouquet of flowers resting on a table: the vibrant, "painterly" quality of the brushstrokes, the paint applied in subtly shaded reflections, brings to mind Renoir's portraits of children. The artistic and stylistic kinship that exists between these two artists is felt especially in the delicacy of color in the vase of flowers and is echoed in the Infanta's dress, the carpet, and the fabric covering the table.