March 17, 2021
Several weeks ago, I began to do a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that I purchased at the Prado Museum in Madrid several years ago. I had not done a jigsaw puzzle in quite a number of years and decided it was time. I used to enjoy puzzles when I was younger but now, they seem to be easier than this one.
The puzzle is Las Meninas, a 17th century painting by Diego Velazquez, and is quite known among art enthusiasts. Its composition is very complex and enigmatic and raises questions about reality and illusion. It creates an uncertain relationship between the figures depicted and the viewer. I had not known this and bought the puzzle because I liked the painting.
However, in matching up the puzzle pieces, I found a very unique experience. Puzzle wise, I experienced frustration when pieces didn’t match and enjoyment when they did. Sometimes both feelings at the same time. I was also stimulated intellectually by understanding what the artist depicted in this painting, one of the most studied masterpieces in art. Velazquez uses mirrors and invites the viewer in to watch the characters while they look out at the viewer; this creates great illusions. One rarely walks away from this painting without an emotional reaction.
When I started, I thought I was just going to do a jigsaw puzzle to pass the time during the pandemic. Instead, I discovered a 460-year-old masterpiece by a brilliant and revolutionary Spanish artist. I encourage you to find it online.