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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Frame by Frame

Velazquez’s young prince and a dwarf

This double portrait by Diego Velazquez (1599-1660) at the Museum of Fine Arts shows two people of similar stature who are years apart in age. It’s a very cute combo. But the effect — whether inadvertently or deliberately — is to our eyes a little baffling. Are we allowed to laugh? If so, what, exactly, is the joke?

One of the little people is Baltasar Carlos, the 2-year-old son of King Philip IV of Spain and his wife, Isabella of Bourbon. The other is a dwarf.

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