Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 101

Velázquez composes: prototypes, replicas, and transformations
Velázquez composes: prototypes, replicas, and transformations
Houston version, and this meant there was no exact fit
for the composition as a whole. In a semi-transparent
scaled overlay of all three versions, with the servant’s
head as the point of registration to centre the image,
the distribution of all the other motifs, including hands
as well as crockery varies (fig. 7). Yet when individual
motifs are overlaid, the contours of head, hands, jug
and bowls, coincide exactly between these paintings.
This observation highlights the significant feature that
a cartoon or template was used to import motifs from
one composition into an entirely different one, not only
for complete replication of the same composition. This
was borne out by the recurrence and exact coincidence
of contours of the stacked bowls seen in the Kitchen
Servant paintings, as well as in Two Young Men Eating at
a Humble Table (London, Wellington Museum, Apsley
House) (fig. 8). Here too, the exact contours occurred
once more (fig. 9). Such exact replication of contour
and form indicates that a cartoon was employed. This
practice may have grown from procedures learned and
observed in Pacheco’s studio.
Fig. 6 / Diego Velázquez,
Kitchen Maid with the
Supper at Emmaus, ca.
1618, oil on canvas, 55 x
118 cm, Dublin, National
Gallery Ireland.
Fig. 7 / Semi-transparent
images of the paintings
in figs. 2, 3 & 5 are
superimposed, and
registered on the head
of the figure. In all three
paintings the head is
virtually identical in
contour and in detail. Other
motifs of the compositions
do not coincide when the
entire paintings are seen in
semi-transparent overlay.
addition to the Houston painting, these are Kitchen Scene
(Chicago, Institute of Fine Arts) (see fig. 2) and Supper at
Emmaus (Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland) (fig. 6).
Even though the figure seems intensely still, the tilt
of her head and the abstracted expression in her eyes
convey a significant moment of reflection. Her African
ethnicity and the biblical scene in the background of
the Dublin picture have attracted scholarly interest, as
has the technical study of Kitchen Scene in Chicago.21
All three versions have suffered some deterioration
of the original paint, the background and areas of
dark pigments being particularly vulnerable. The
recurrence of still-life elements in various bodegones by
Velázquez has long been noticed.22 Nevertheless, the
opportunity to compare direct tracings of the figure
and still-life elements in the Chicago and Houston
pictures was welcome.23 For comparisons, additional
paintings were studied either from direct tracings, or
digitally, using scaled overlays. Comparing the figure
placement in the Chicago and Houston versions
showed that the torso was slightly elongated in the


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