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Lesson plans and assessments contributed by Central Jersey World Languages Professional Development Institute 2000.
tech lessons: Las Meninas by Vel

Title: Las Meninas by Velázquez

Topic: Art

Level: Junior HS to High School (in English, any of these levels; in Spanish, upper levels only)

Standards Addressed:
Foreign Language Standards   NETS Performance Indicators (9-12)
1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.2, 5.2   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Timeframe: One week

Materials Needed: CD-ROM Masterpieces of the Prado Museum from LADAC Multimedia


  • Students will use the keyboard, computer and CD-ROM to identify parts of the painting "Las Meninas"
  • Students will answer questions based on the CD-ROM segments.
  • Students will verbalize their opinions on art/techniques and compare this work to others.
  • Students will connect and compare the Royal Family shown to other family portraits and other families. They will also investigate practices of royal families.
  • Students may go to a museum to see other works of art by this artist or works depicting families.

Activity instructions: Using the CD-ROM:

Click on Tours. Go to 5 Masterpieces.

Las Meninas - Find this on the museum time line.

Who painted this work of art?
What does the title represent?
Describe the room/setting of the painting. Where does the scene take place?
Who are the people in the painting?
Whom is the artist really painting? Where can you see them?
What is on the artist's clothing? When was that put there?
Describe the use of light in this work of art.

At the end of the tour, click on the painting for more information.
When was this painted?
What is the size of the painting? Name an article in your possession/home/world that is approximately the same size.
The dimensions given for this painting are in centimeters. What would "Las Meninas" measure in feet/inches?

What is the original title of this work of art?
Who changed the name? When?
What influenced him to choose that title?
What does "menina" mean? How long would you call someone a "menina" (till around what age)?
What kind of relationship did the artist have with the Royal Family?
What would you name this painting?

Next, click on PRESENTATION
Identify the people in the painting and add any commentary about them you feel appropriate.

Next, click on DETAILED VIEW
Move the cursor around to see the different parts of the painting. Which is your favorite and why?
If you could be one of the people in the painting, which one would you choose to be and why?

Click on STUDY
When did Velázquez paint this?
Describe the perspective/ depth in the painting.
What is the assumed shape of the room?
How does he show depth?
Describe the use of light and shadow.
Which constellation does the artist imitate with the placement of the subjects' heads? Place dots on a paper and find the constellation in an astronomy resource. This might have been a favorite constellation Velázquez could see at night. What's yours? Can you name and draw it?

Click on SUBJECT
What kind of event is illustrated in this painting?
Who identified the location of this work?
When did this place change its function? What was it before? Why did it change?

Who were the first and second queens to this king? What is the king's name?
On the Internet or other current source, find out the names of the current members of the Royal Family of Spain.

Who are depicted in the mirror in the background?
Who is the centerpiece? What is her title at the time of the painting? What will her future title be?

Who was the most frequently painted member of the Royal Family?

Where and when was Velázquez born? Where and when did he die?
From whom did he learn to paint?
When did he become the court painter?

What famous painter did he meet and befriend? Find the name of a painting done by his friend that is at the Prado Museum (if any).
If you could meet a famous artist (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

Choose one of the portraits and talk about the subject's appearance: hair, clothing,etc.

Click on INDEXES
Find another portrait of a Royal Family at the Prado and compare it to "Las meninas". For example, "The Family of Charles IV" by Francisco de Goya OR compare the Princess Margarita with another princess' portrait by Velázquez, or perhaps the "Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia" by Alonso Sánchez Coello.


On the Internet, or elsewhere, see if you can find out about Picasso's series of paintings on "Las Meninas" in his own style, or Salvador Dali's version.

Read articles from Scholastic Magazines "Hoy Día" (Sept/Oct 1999, pp 6- 7) and Abrir Paso by Eva Neisser Echenberg (pp 11- 13). Read La Princesa y el Pintor by Jane Johnson. These three are written in Spanish and could be used by the upper-level language students who are using the CD-ROM in Spanish.

Assessment: Students will answer questions on worksheet based on the CD-ROM. They will also do comparison and critical thinking activities. Students will place the artist's work on a timeline and describe the painting using a transparency of the painting and an overhead projector.

Leslie Port
Toms River HS South
55 Hyers Street
Toms River, NJ 08753


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Updated: Fri Nov 23 2007