EXTERNAL HISTORY: .Considered along with LAS MENINAS to be one of the most important masterpieces of DIEGO DE VELAZQUUEZ ,as if final perido,this metological scene despits Minerras dispute with Arachne over weaving abilities.Traditionally cosidered to represent women working at the tapestry workshop of Santa Isable but it now prored that it is mythological subject.It was probably painted around 1657.The title of “THE SPINNERS”,as it ispopularly known,is a later invention and seems to have been inspired by the women who are spinning in the foregroundthey were workers in the Santa Isabel tapestry factory in Madrid.This Velazquez painting, considered for a long represent a generic theme,actually hides the depiction of a mythological theme draped in the everyday labour of a tapstry workshop.
In the mid forties,sepcialists refused to interpet it as a simple every day scen.Their doubt were clarified when reearcher Maria Luisa Caturla brought to light aninventory in which an unknowed VelazquezsFable of Arachae was mentioned,owned by huntsman to King Philip 4th,Don Pedro de Arcc.One of the problems that hindired the identification of the subject lay in the fact that the work did not belong to collections and documentary information existed about it.
INTERNAL HISTORY:The Fable of Archa,as related in Ovids Metamorphoese,tells how Minerva,goddess of the arts and of war,competes with Arachne,famous for her skill in spinning in weaving a tapestry.The young spinner was insolent enough to prevent in her work one of the love advantures of the goddess father Jove,and by way of punishment,she was transformed into a spider.ICONOGRAPHY: Even so,Velazquez had used Baroque recourse of inserting a picture within a picture since he was a youngman, and he linked to reverse the order of important of the story(i.
e putting the trivial forward and the fundamental behind) This canvas was added onto it in the 18th century,on the upper part and both sides.It is not know if this aws done to restore it to its original state (it was thought to have suffered damage in the Alcazar fire of 1734) or if it was simply and attempt to complete the scene to make it larger.Certain scholar say it is an Apology of fine arts,intended to show the superiority of the art of painting over the hand crafts, while others see it a Political Allegory after Ripas Iconology.TECHNIQUE:The Spinning wheels turns rapidily showing the loose Velazquez technique.The canvas was probable damaaged by the fire in the Alcazar(1734) and an upper section was added. An “arrepenrimento”can be appreciated in the head of the girl in profile, represented in the right side of the painting.As a goddes of war,appears in the backgroundin military dress.
It is at the back of the work shop where the fable is recounted;in the foreground we see the actual labour of the workshop.Both space are graced with the magnificentand the meticulous use of light and a freedom and loosen of brush strokes that make the painting one of the most valueable of those predating Impressionism.The key painting by means of the afrorementoned mythological story,accompained by a tapestry with the Rape of Europr,by Titian painting as a declaraction of superiority of art over mere manual dexterity.It has been in the Prado since 1819.