- House of Alba Foundation, Madrid, Spain
- 194 x 130 cm
- Técnica y soporte
- Oil on canvas
- Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
- Documented work
- Fundación Casa de Alba
- Ficha: realización/revisión
- 22 Feb 2010 / 23 Nov 2011
A la Duquesa / de Alba Frco. De / Goya 1795 ("To the Duchess / of Alba Francisco De / Goya 1795", bottom left).
Until 1834-1840 there is no documentation recording the provenance of this canvas, at which point it reappears in the possession of the Duchess of Berwick and Alba, in the Liria Palace in Madrid, where it has remained until the present day.
María del Pilar Cayetana de Silva Álvarez de Toledo, (Madrid, 1762 - 1802), the 13th Duchess of Alba, was painted by Goya several times. On this occasion Goya painted her at the age of thirty-three, wearing an elegant long white dress which enhances her figure and is notable for the red sash tied at the waist matching the ribbons of the same colour placed at her bust and in her hair. The quality of the material of the Duchess's dress is striking and is painted with great skill, as is her long mane of curly hair: it falls to her waist and is styled in a fashion popular at the end of the 18th century. The red and white colours of the dress may be a reference to the crest of the House of Alba; in the 18th century their coat-of-arms was draped in a purple, ermine-lined robe.
Her face is not particularly expressive; this, according to Gudiol, contributes to the creation of an image more akin to a religious icon than the portrait of a society lady.
Her hand points down to the floor, indicating the inscription mentioned above. Her right wrist is decorated with gold bracelets, and on her upper arm she is wearing another gold and enamel bracelet which carries the initials of her illustrious family names: an "S" for Silva and a "T" for Álvarez de Toledo, her husband's name.
By her side we can see a white poodle, which was painted in at a later date. Its back leg is decorated with a red bow matching those worn by the Duchess.
The common belief that this painting forms a pair with the portrait of her husband, the Duke of Alba, is now questioned.
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Colección Casa de Albacat. 212010Consejería de cultura de Andalucía