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Proceedings Paper

Computer graphics synthesis for inferring artist studio practice: an application to Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas
Author(s): David G. Stork; Yasuo Furuichi
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Paper Abstract

Diego Velázquez's Las meninas (1656) has been called by some art experts "the most important painting of the 17th century," "a theology of painting," and even "the world's greatest painting"; it has been the subject of intensive study. The work depicts a complex scene in the Alcázar palace of King Philip IV of Spain, and includes mirror reflections of the king and queen, apparently standing in place of the viewer, as well as the artist himself standing before an enormous canvas on an easel. Nevertheless, questions remain about the studio and the proper viewing configuration: Is the artist looking toward the perspectivally correct position of the viewer in the museum space (center of projection), outside the picture space? Does the perspectivally correct position correspond to the locations of the king and queen seen reflected in the mirror? Is the bright illumination on the king and queen (as revealed in the mirror) consistent with the lighting in the tableau itself? We addressed these questions in a new way: by building a full computer graphics model of the figures and tableau as well as the viewer's space outside the painting. In our full model, the painting itself is represented as a translucent window onto which the picture space is projected toward the center of projection, that is, the viewer. Our geometric and (new) lighting evidence confirm Janson's and Snyder's contention that the plane mirror on the back wall reflects the other side of the large painting depicted within the tableau, not the king and queen themselves in the studio. We believe our computer graphics synthesis of both the tableau within the painting and the viewer's space in the real world is the first of its kind to address such problems in the history of art.

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 January 2009
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7238, The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2009, 723806 (26 January 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.806264
Show Author Affiliations
David G. Stork, Ricoh Innovations (United States)
Yasuo Furuichi, Consultant (Japan)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7238:
The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2009
Ian E. McDowall; Margaret Dolinsky, Editor(s)

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