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Australian art

Contemporary art

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After Las Meninas



John Beard

Wales, Australia

1943 -


John Beard (1943- ) is a significant contemporary painter, who investigates the dynamic tension at play in the structures of pictorial representation. 'After Las Meninas' 2011 is Beard's reinterpretation of Diego Velazquez's iconic 'Las Meninas' 1656. He regularly encountered 'Las Meninas' 1656 at the Museo del Prado during a two year spell in Madrid, Spain. It is a famously complex image renowned for complicating our process of recognition by confusing what appears real and illusory in paint.

Beard has taken this one step further in replicating the dimensions and composition of the original, but creating a distinctive picture that is at once indistinguishable yet strangely familiar. The linen has been characteristically layered over and over with scumbled screens of black oil and wax so that the image is almost hidden. These thin layers are built up so that the forms appear as a variation in the texture of the surface. We move in relation to the painting and the direction of the light, so that the image has the effect of coming into focus and then receding.

This viewing experience divorces the image from its weighty history all the while returning the object to materiality and presence. New meaning is created through the slippage between understanding and sensation.


Other Title

Las Meninas



Media category


Materials used

oil and wax on linen


318.0 x 276.0 cm stretcher

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Helen Cassie 2014


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

John Beard

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Stephen Bann, Anthony Bond OAM and Charles Saumarez Smith, John Beard, Neutral Bay, 2011, 116, 117. general reference