Dressing Las Meninas
Department of Art and Archaeology, Amanda Wunder
March 17, 2022 · 4:30 pm—6:00 pm · 113 Friend Center and Zoom
The inventive work of the artisans who dressed the court of Philip IV has always been visible in Diego Velázquez’s court portraits, yet the tailors, embroiderers, farthingale-makers, shoemakers, and their colleagues have long been forgotten, largely ignored by historians and art historians. None of the garments that they made have survived the centuries, and Velázquez—who enjoyed a monopoly over court portraiture—is an unreliable narrator when it comes to fashion. In this lecture, I use extensive archival documentation to reconstruct the life and work of a court tailor named Mateo Aguado who dressed the Infanta Margarita (best known as the central character in Las Meninas) and many of Velázquez’s other well-known sitters in a career that spanned over forty years. While making the case for recognizing a previously anonymous artisan as a significant creative force, this talk also offers new insights into Velázquez’s approach to the fashions that feature so prominently in his most iconic paintings.