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The years between Goya's appointment as first painter to the court of Charles IV and the Napoleonic invasion of 1808 were a time of great activity and financial security for the artist. He painted some of his finest portraits at that time, Señora Sabasa García and several others in the National Gallery's collection among them.

In contrast with his earlier work --#The Marquesa de Pontejos, for example -- Goya dispensed with the setting entirely and treated the costume much more impressionistically. Eliminating unessential details, he gave life to the figure with the greatest technical economy, his vibrant brushwork merely suggesting the gossamer qualities of the señora's mantilla rather than defining its details.

Señora Sabasa García was the niece of Evaristo Pérez de Castro, Spain's minister of foreign affairs, for whom Goya was painting an official portrait when, according to a perhaps legendary anecdote, the young woman appeared. The artist, struck by her beauty, stopped work and asked permission to paint her portrait. With images like this, spotlighting the restrained fire and beauty of the subject, Goya created the visual vocabulary that embodies the words "Spanish beauty," just as his earlier tapestry cartoons and genre paintings of popular pastimes distilled the essence of Spanish life.

More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication Spanish Paintings of the Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries, which is available as a free PDF


The sitter [b. 1790] until her death;[1] by inheritance to her goddaughter, Mariana García Soler, Madrid;[2] after her death, sold by her husband Dr. Sota to Don José Joaquin Herrero, Madrid;[3] Dr. James Simon [1851-1932], Berlin, by 1908;[4] Count Paalen, Berlin; Heinrich Sklarz, Berlin, by 1923;[5] (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris);[6] purchased 21 February 1930 by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Porträtaustellung, Kaiser Friedrich Museens Verein, Berlin, 1908-09, no. 91, as Junge Madchen.
A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1934, no. 8.
Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Goya, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, 1934, no. 8, repro.
Bilder von Menschen in der Kunst des Abendlandes, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, 1980, no. 42, repro.
Goya: The Condesa de Chinchon and Other Paintings, Drawings, and Prints from Spanish and American Private Collections and the National Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986-87 unpaginated brochure.
Goya 1746-1828, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, no. 129, repro.
Goya: La imagen de la mujer [Goya: Images of Women], Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2001-2002, no. 75 (Spanish cat.), no. 33 (English cat.), color repro.

Technical Summary

The support is a medium-weight plain-weave fabric, probably linen, lined to another fabric of the same type. The tacking margins have been removed, and there is cusping along the edges. The grayish white ground and the paint layers are of moderate thickness. Small lumps scattered in the background are probably caused by slubs in the canvas weave. Areas of old repaint in the face and hands have turned white.


Hadeln, Detlev Freiherrn von. "Die Portätausstellung des Kaiser Friedrich Museens Verein." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 44 (1908-1909): 203, repro. 197.
Beruete y Moret, Aureliano de. Goya, pintor de retratos. Madrid, 1916: 101, 179, no. 220 (also English ed. Translated by Selwyn Brinton. London, 1922: 123, 213, no. 228). [Citation in NGA Sys. Cat. gives year of Spanish ed. as 1915 and page as 120.]
Loga, Valerian von. Die Malerei in Spanien vom XIV. bis XVIII. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1923: 414, fig. 207.
Mayer, August L. Francisco de Goya. Munich, 1923: 80, 206, no. 499. Translated by Robert West [pseud.]. London, 1924.
Pantorba, Bernardino de [José López Jiminez]. Goya. Madrid, 1928: 96.
Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier. Goya. Paris, 1930: 70, pl. 46.
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Die unbekannte Meisterwerke in öffentlichen und privaten Sammlungen. Berlin, 1930: no. 91, repro.
Valentiner, Wilhelm R., ed. Unknown Masterpieces in Public and Private Collections. London, 1930: n.p., pl. 91.
Siple, Ella S. "A Goya Exhibition in America." The Burlington Magazine 64 (1934): 228, fig. B.
Cortissoz, Royal. An Introduction to the Mellon Collection. Boston, 1937: 43.
Crowninshield, Frank. "The Singular Case of Andrew W. Mellon." Vogue (1 April 1937): 74, 142-143, color repro. 75.
Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941: no. 235, repro.
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 89-90, no. 88.
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 241, repro. 214.
Cook 1945, 160-161, fig. 7.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 47, repro.
Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier. Vida y obras de Goya. Madrid, 1951: 104, pl. 59. Translated by Paul Burns. Madrid, 1964.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1952: 130, color repro.
Gaya Nuño, Juan Anotonio. La pintura española fuera de España; historia y catàlogo. Madrid, 1958: 171, no. 1021.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 321, repro.
Trapier, Elizabeth du Gué. Goya and His Sitters. New York, 1964: 33, 55, no. 59, pl. 59.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 60.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:344, color repro.
The Women I Love: These Lovely Immigrants Are Part of Our National Treasure.” This Week Magazine (January 9, 1966): 10, color repro.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 53, repro.
Harris, Enriqueta. Goya. London, 1969: 9, 87, no. 28, color pl. 28.
Gassier, Pierre, and Juliet Wilson. Vie et oeuvre de Francisco Goya. Paris, 1970. Translated by Christine Hauch and Juliet Wilson. New York, 1971: 158, 167, 198, no. 816, color repro. 155 (also 1981 ed. same pp. as above).
Gudiol y Ricart, José. Goya: 1746-1828; Biography, Analytical Study and Catalogue of His Paintings. Translated by Kenneth Lyons. 4 vols. New York, 1971: 1:132, 309, no. 527; 4:color fig. 832.
De Angelis, Rita. L'opera pittorica completa di Goya. Milan, 1974: 119, no. 447, color pl. 33.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 158, repro.
Licht, Fred. Goya: The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art. New York, 1979: 247-248, 257, fig. 123.
Salas, Xavier de. Goya. Translated by G. T. Culverwell. London, 1979: 102, 190, no. 381, repro. 96.
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 96, pl. 86.
Valverde Madrid, José. "El Retrato de doña Sabasa Garcia por Goya." Goya 177 (1983): 108-109, repro. 169.
Camón Aznar, José. Francisco de Goya. 4 vos, Saragossa, 1984: 3:156-157.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 404, no. 577, color repro.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 183, repro.
Brown, Jonathan, and Richard G. Mann. Spanish Paintings of the Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1990: 9-12, color repro. 11.
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 93, repro.
Muller, Priscilla E. "Goya's portrait of Sabasa Garcia." The Burlington Magazine 135, no. 1079 (February 1993): 99-101, repro.
Goya: Images of Women. Exh. cat. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2001-2002: no. 43.
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: xi, 266-267, no. 216, color repros.
Brettell, Richard R., and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. New Haven and London, 2006: 50, 52 fig. 5a.

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