Botticelli to Van Gogh

Learning Resource

A painting of two women working at a kitchen table, through a window behind them Jesus converses with two women, Martha and Mary.

Diego Velázquez
Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

c. 1618

Diego Velázquez. Christ in the House of Martha and Mary. c. 1618. © The National Gallery, London. Bequeathed by Sir William H. Gregory, 1892


Look at where Velázquez included a religious scene of Christ with Mary and Martha in this painting. It is surprisingly small, seen through the window in the room beyond.

Think about why Velázquez made the larger focal subject a hard-working and probably very poor kitchen maid preparing food with the old woman beside her. Why is the religious scene presented as secondary, smaller in scale? What connection can you make between the two scenes?

Create a written dialogue between the old woman and the kitchen maid to make sense of this scene.

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