Everyday people in everyday
situations became the motto of realist artists of the seventeenth century.
Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor),
and Rembrandt’s Sortie of Captain Banning Cocq’s Company of the Civil
Guard (Night Watch), 1642, depict informal
gatherings of models.
painting depicts the Spanish princess (who would later marry Louis XIV and
become Queen of France) and her girlfriends, midget companion, little
brother, dog, and chaperones, all visiting the painter in his studio. At far
left, we see the back of a large canvas and Velazquez stepping backward to
get a better look at his model(s) who stand in our space in front of the
painting. It may not be of “everyday people,” but it is life as lived for the
little princess and her friends.