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The runners up to 'Las Meninas'

Washington Post critic Blake Gopnik lists nine great works that don't quite measure up to Diego Velazquez's masterpiece.

 
 

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"The Betrayal of Judas," a fresco crafted by Giotto in the Scrovegni chapel in Padova in around 1305. Of course, this is one of the most moving paintings ever, and that thicket of spears is one of the most compelling passages in any painting: It fascinates the eye, even as it warns us that something evil's afoot. The problem is, I don't see how any work can count as definitively great, if its artist hasn't had to grapple with the promises and problems of a full-blown, proto-photographic realism. Giotto worked a century too early for that.


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The Velazquez painting 'Las Meninas': An encyclopedia of artistic greatness
Article | IN MADRID There's too much great art out there. Giant exhibitions fill our eyes with hundreds of works. Our museums are constantly adding new wings. Television, the Web, magazines, coffee-table books - they spout so many art stars, we're drowning in them.

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