Richard Hamilton’s Las Meninas
Richard Hamilton’s contribution to this print portfolio in homage to Picasso was Picasso’s Las Meninas, an etching with aquatint on white paper. It was printed by Aldo Crommelynck, the master printer with whom Picasso had worked on the production of most of his prints over the course of twenty years. In this print Hamilton transforms Velázquez into Picasso and replaces the original figures in the painting with others in the different styles in which Picasso worked. Thus we see the Blue and Pink Periods, classicism and expressionism. Using a wide range of Picasso’s techniques, including free washes of aquatint, Hamilton brings together and fuses all the different idioms used by Picasso in a single image that had also inspired Picasso: Velázquez’s Las Meninas.
In Picasso’s Las Meninas Hamilton combines allusions that unite the past with the present and art with literature, using numerous changes of style within one composition in order to pay personal tribute to Picasso while also revealing his profound admiration for Velázquez and the influence that James Joyce exercised on his thought.