Among the vast number of international art located in Dublin’s National Gallery of Ireland are the works of the Spanish painter, Diego Velázquez. Velázquez, who lived from 1599 – 1660, was swept up in the contemporary baroque period of art. He used this style of art in many of his notable portrait paintings of important figures. These included Spanish royalty, noblemen, and even Pope Innocent X. In addition to these, however, Velázquez also created scenes from history, one of the most famous being Kitchen Maid with the Supper of Emmaus.
Kitchen Maid with the Supper of Emmaus is a depiction of a maid cleaning up after a meal that Jesus Christ supposedly had eaten. According to the Scriptures, two men, from the town of Emmaus, a village near Jerusalem, had encountered Jesus shortly after The Resurrection, and invited Him to come have supper at their house. Many religious works of art during the contemporary baroque period composed of a mixture of historical figures or stories with modern backgrounds, costumes, settings, etc.
These type of paintings required people during this time to think of the moral consequences of of the reality represented in the painting. In the instance of Kitchen Maid with the Supper of Emmaus, the painting features foods of abstinence that were considered sacred, such as fish, eggs, bread and wine. But it also served as a reminder that while the gift of food is an act of charity, gluttony was a sin.
The importance of the Velázquez art is demonstrated by the respect of his work among 20th Century artists. Perhaps the example that shines the most isPablo Picasso’s cubist recreation of Las Meninasin 58 variations. Picasso’s rendition of Velázquez’s work was granted a place of relevance in the Spanish canon of art.
Another artist that paid homage to Velázquez wasSalvador Dali, who created a work in 1958 entitled, Velázquez Painting the Infanta Margarita With the Lights and Shadows of His Own Glory, as well as Irish painter Francis Bacon, who claimed that the Velázquez portrait of Pope Innocent X was the greatest portrait he had ever seen. This inspired Bacon to make variations on this painting, including his renowned Figure with Meat.